updated 04/19/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 04/19/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST
Dr. William Brock, 28, suffered three leg fractures by age 2, before physicians realized he was a victim of osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare, often hereditary affliction also known as "brittle-bone disease." The Pittsburgh-born son of an auto salesman and a housewife, neither of whom had O.I., Brock was in junior high when his tally of fractures reached 70. That did not count mere hand and finger cracks, which his dad treated with Popsicle sticks and tape. Once young Bill shattered both legs playing Ping-Pong—and had to spend four years in a wheelchair. Today he stands 5'2" and has four steel rods implanted in key bones and a left leg and arm that are shorter than the right. Yet Bill hasn't let O.I. break his spirit. A resident internist at Pittsburgh's Montefiore Hospital, he has set up the Children's Research Foundation for Osteogenesis Imperfecta. It aims to raise $100,000 its first year to support study of the still-mysterious disease that afflicts perhaps 100,000 U.S. children. Brock hasn't broken a bone in two years, possibly because he does 400 sit-ups a day to increase his strength. Separated from his dental student wife since 1980, he opted for a vasectomy rather than take the 50-50 chance of passing on the disease. "An O.I. child is a high-maintenance child," explains Brock, at left with O.I. poster girl Jamie Saffa. "As a physician, I may not have that kind of time."