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The 12-year-old cancer survivor from Ealing with a higher IQ than Einstein

by 100IQ Win The Knowledge

A child who survived leukemia and his family’s extreme financial hardships has been accepted into Mensa, after a test showed his IQ was higher than Stephen Hawking’s and Albert Einstein’s.

Shivam Mehta and his family were made homeless in 2012 after his cancer diagnosis aged only six meant his parents could no longer work to afford their mortgage payments.

The 12-year-old’s mother Usha, 53, says she struggled to get Ealing Council to move them out of emergency hostel accommodation even though it risked compromising Shivam’s health and only succeeded after an article about their plight appeared in the Ealing Gazette.

Now, despite housing struggles, nearly dying from an infection and missing almost an entire year of school for cancer treatments, Shivam, who has been in remission since 2016, has proven himself smarter not only than most 12-year-olds but also 99% of the population.

Shivam with a photo of himself as a child in hospital

Mum Usha said: “He took a test in October that showed his IQ is 162, which is higher than Hawking’s and Einstein’s and a great achievement after he lost so much education time due to his illness.

“He missed Year 4 of his education completely for chemotherapy and only went to school for three days of that year. Even when he went back his education was very on and off because he had to miss days regularly to recover from the chemotherapy.

‘Sometimes even I cannot understand him’

“He was very happy to get such a high score and I’m very glad he is so bright and has such a hunger for knowledge. His vocabulary is so advanced that even I cannot understand him sometimes and he has to explain to me.

“He loves computers very much. When he was four, he set up my printer when I was struggling.”

Shivam with his letter from Mensa confirming his acceptance

Shivam has survived not only four years of cancer treatment but also a serious brush with death in 2014, when he contracted chickenpox shortly after returning to school and almost died from organ failure.

Usha said: “He was taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital and they had to put him on an oscillator to breathe for him. It sounded like a washing machine it was going so hard. It was hard to see him like that and I don’t want to remember it.

“He ended up in the intensive care unit for 21 days as his organs failed. His heart was very weak, his lungs totally gone and his liver was very weak also.

“For 21 days, we knew at any moment that anything could happen but luckily Shivam is a fighter and he came out of all these things.”

Two years later, in 2016, Shivam finally went into remission and finished his cancer treatment, which Usha said gave her “mixed feelings” because she “couldn’t believe” he had beaten the illness.

He was initially diagnosed just six days after his sixth birthday and eight weeks after the birth of his little brother Parth, a combination of events that meant the family was unable to pay off their credit debts and had to declare themselves bankrupt.

Usha said: “My husband Shashi could not work and I was on maternity leave so, though we tried our best, we could not save our home.

“It would have been hard for even a normal family to face these problems and people talk a lot about support but there is no support, let me tell you.

Shivam his mother and younger brother Parth, 6

“Before Shivam was diagnosed with cancer we had paid taxes and never asked for a penny in benefits but then our circumstances drastically changed.”

Shivam’s compromised immune system meant being around so many other people in hostel accommodation and with only one room for his whole family put him at serious risk.

Usha added: “Shivam had to go to Northwick Park Hospital every day from 9 to 5 and when he came home he could not eat or sleep because the treatment was very hard.

“We had no money because we could not work and the fare to the hospital was £10 every day but we survived anyhow.

“He was on a high dose of medication and there were other children in the hostel with whooping cough so we could not stay there. I was worried because there were people in the hostel who had been there for six months.

“I used to have to go to the library with my little baby to contact the housing officers but everybody just said they would look into the matter and still nothing happened.

“Only when the Ealing Gazette published our story did the council finally start to take me seriously. The story was published on December 28 and by the end of the Christmas holidays, they moved us into temporary accommodation in West Ealing.”

The Ealing Gazette article that Usha says forced Ealing Council to act

The family waited nearly three years for a permanent home in Northolt, which is big enough to accommodate the complicated needs of their two children, who are both diagnosed with autism.

Usha said: “Parth is a very hyperactive child and Shivam is more calm, which can make it difficult for them to get on, so it helps to have a big enough house that we can separate them.

‘He can get very frustrated’

“That said, when we moved to Northolt, Shivam had to change to a different school, which is hard even for normal children but with autism is more difficult.

“He can find school very boring because it’s so easy for him and I think it can be hard for him being on such a different level to other children his age. He can get very frustrated when people do not understand him.

“Sometimes he was sad and didn’t want to go to school so I had to force him. I was a top student when I was young and his dad did regret not finishing school so I told him he has to finish.

“I think it will be a lot easier for him to interact with same-minded people at Mensa. He sometimes feels people only care about expensive clothes and don’t notice things like intelligence.”

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The chance to be around like-minded people is one of the advantages of membership of Mensa.

Shivam will become one of 21,000 British Mensa members and one of 134,000 members worldwide, who come from more than 100 countries.

The society was set up in 1946 and is the oldest and largest organisation of its kind in the world.

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