Nathan Hrdlicka is 1.37m (4ft 6in) tall.
He was born without thighs because of a rare medical condition. Cruel bullies labelled him a ‘midget’ and mocked him mercilessly.
But now Nathan has the last laugh, as he has found lasting love with a beautiful woman.
34-year-old Nathan met 19-year-old Chelsee Stuart on Facebook. Chelsee – who is at least a foot taller than Nathan – admits she initially saw his height as a ‘problem’.
But Nathan’s warm and infectious personality made her fall in love with him and see past his disability.
The couple from Sante Fe, New Mexico say their height difference draws stares from strangers.
But they are so in love they just shrug it off.
Nathan is one of just 25 people in the world born with tbilateral proximal femoral focal deficiency.
(PFFD) type D – means Nathan’s knee bones are directly beneath his hip bones.
Nathan is the only person with the disease who is known to be able to walk.
‘I don’t see myself as different,’ he said. ‘When people come up to me that’s the first thing they are seeing is my disability.
‘My disability is something that doesn’t define me.’
Nathan admits that the rare condition that he suffers from brings him a lot of pain.
‘There’s only 25 people in the world with my condition. It makes me feel pretty unique,’ he said.
‘As far as I’ve been told I am the only one who has figured out how to walk.’
‘I’m not really made to walk so everyday I choose to do that and it comes with a pay off.;
‘I’m literally walking on the tips of bones so through out the day that eventually wears me out and brings pain on.’
Nathan admits that he can rarely go out of his house without someone passing comment.
Most are just curious and ask him questions.
But some rude individuals sometimes make the odd silly comment.
‘Some of the comments I get are people calling me a midget a lot, which is an uneducated thing,’ he said. ‘They also pick at the height thing.’
One day Nathan joined a healing page on Facebook and met Chelsee.
The pair hit it off immediately.
Chelsee said: ‘When we first met I did think the height difference was going to be a sort of problem because this was my first time really being with someone that shorter than me.;
‘It took us a lot of time to really learn what works and what doesn’t work but eventually now everything works.’
‘One of the biggest challenges that we faced together is I’m a super, super physical person,’ Chelsee explained.
‘I like to go hiking and exploring in the woods and so it would be awesome to do that with my best friend but since endurance is tough on him, he can’t really keep up.’
‘I have to find other people to do those activities with.’
But despite some limitations in their relationship – the two are extremely close.
‘Chelsee supports me emotionally as a friend in a way that I never had in my life,’ Nathan said.
‘When I am sick she is there making sure there is everything she can do to make me feel better. Whether it is just to put a smile on my face or a glass of cold water. ‘
Chelsea said: ‘Some people are very curious and give us these looks like “What is going on” just because of our height difference and then a lot of people are drawn to us.’
‘We both are very energetic and vibrant together, so people are more curious and they come up to us and ask questions.’
‘They eventually see the love that we have in the friendship that we have.’
Nathan admits that his condition leaves him in constant pain. There is no treatment, so Nathan uses holistic medicine to help him cope with his pain.
He explained: ‘This is the only true medical system that’s actually stood by me to try to find help that isn’t just medicine based.’
‘This helped everything from my emotional state to being mentored at the centre. I’m trying to through, my own will and body, to find answers for healing and strength.’
Unfortunately Nathan is not covered by insurance. He no longer receives disability checks even though he suffers from a rare condition.
He has started a GoFund Me campaign to try and raise $25,000 to cover medical costs.
The close couple have started a jewellery business, and are planning on opening up a healing centre in Iceland.
Their aim is to show people different kinds of holistic medicine that can be used for pain.
Nathan said: ‘My hope for the future is that I get this condition a little bit more under control.
‘I just really want to be able to help people. I want to be able to use my experiences and story to help people get through the hard times that they are having so that they can heal.’