Growing Up Too Fast
Perhaps one of the scariest things imaginable is to have our own body turn against us.
This of course happens in a multitude of ways, with various disorders and diseases causing our fragile bodies to attack themselves or even completely shut down. From cancer to locked-in syndrome, the possibilities are endless and terrifying.
But what if your body made you age too quickly? In a world obsessed with youth and beauty, there are those who suffer from an extraordinarily rare genetic condition that makes Benjamin Button look like a walk in the park, and sadly, there’s no getting better.
Every child deserves a childhood, but what happens when you’re physically denied one? That’s the case for Mohammed Abdel Majeed and a handful of others like him, who suffer from a rare genetic disorder called progeria. This mysterious syndrome causes victims to age at a rate eight to ten times faster than normal people.
Mohammed wants to be like the other kids his age, but his body won’t allow him that simple pleasure. As a result, his young soul finds itself trapped in an increasingly fragile and sickly body, much to the young boy’s dismay.
Officially called Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, the rare genetic disorder was first described back in 1886 and is still a mystery to scientists and doctors today.
Though it only affects about one in 20 million people, progeria is fatal and leads to a major decrease in quality of life beforehand. While scientists know the disorder is caused by a genetic mutation, there is still much left to it they still don’t understand.
“Isolating the progeria gene is a major achievement for the medical research community,” said Dr. Collins of the Progeria Research Foundation. “The discovery not only gives hope to children and families affected by progeria, but also may shed light on the phenomenon of aging and cardiovascular disease.”
On average, children who suffer from progeria die around 14 years of age, often due to heart disease.
For most people with progeria, symptoms become apparent within the first several months to two years of life. The first signs typically include dark, hardening skin, insufficient weight gain, and failure to thrive.
In their early years, children will also show distinctly limited growth. A small face with a large head and pronounced eyes, for example, and full-body hair loss. Later on, the symptoms become even more noticeable and impede on normal childhoods.
In essence, progeria makes the body age far too rapidly, so children affected by it suffer from kidney failure, poor eyesight, fragile bones, wrinkled skin, disproportionate bodies, and heart problems.
While Mohammed wants to lead a normal life, playing and going to school with other kids his age isn’t something he’s always able to do. He is the frequent target of bullies who mock him for his aged appearance, and he can only play for a short time before he becomes tired.
Mohammed’s story is heartbreaking, but here’s what people are doing to help him and his family…