03 December 2017

This man must drink 20 litres of water a day just to stay alive!

“In my life I’ve never slept longer than two hours at a time.”

Marc Wübbenhorst from the Western German city of Bielefeld drinks at least 10 times more water than the recommended daily intake of two litres a day for most people.

The 35-year-old German has suffered from diabetes insipidus since birth. It’s a rare disease – only 60 people in Germany have been diagnosed with it. The condition – which, despite its name, is unrelated to diabetes – is an inability of the sufferer’s body to handle fluids.

It’s characterised by large amounts of diluted urine released by the kidneys, with patients such as Wübbenhorst producing up to 20 litres of urine a day.

It means his kidneys and body are dehydrating at a rapid rate, forcing him to drink the same amount of water just to keep his body going. If Wübbenhorst doesn’t drink any water for two hours, he can already end up in a life-threatening situation.

As one can imagine, this causes severe lifestyle problems for him. “In my life I’ve never slept longer than two hours at a time,” he says.

Despite his condition, Wübbenhorst holds a full-time job working at an architecture bureau. His colleagues are accustomed to the crates of water bottles constantly at his side, as well as his many toilet breaks.

Wübbenhorst says that it hasn’t always been easy for him to deal with the condition.

“I had a lot of fun as a kid, I had friends, but at some point everything just got too much for me.

“I didn’t want to go to nursery school, didn’t want to paint anymore or go to the lantern parade – I had a kind of fatigue depression.”

These days, Wübbenhorst says he can live with his condition and manages to cope with it with the help of generous doses of humour.

“For example, [at school] I was the only one who could pee his entire name in the snow.”

He has to stick to his strict daily routine in order to cope with the huge amount of water he needs to drink and the subsequent toilet breaks. “Many things, such as long-distance travel or some sports, are simply impossible.”

He says it’s best that as little as possible is left to chance, as unforeseen circumstances can prove dangerous.

“One day we worked unbelievably late at the office. It was somewhere around 10.30pm, and I was on a train and didn’t have my bottle of water with me.”

To make matters worse, the train Wübbenhorst was on got stuck and the toilet in his carriage was broken. When the first sign of dehydration hit, Wübbenhorst was lucky to encounter a friend when the train arrived at the station.

“He then got me something to drink quickly – my rescuer.”