LONDON- A girl with a rare ageing disease who became known as the “100-year-old teenager” has passed away at the age of 17.
Hayley Okines from Bexhill, East Sussex was born with progeria, a genetic disorder that caused her body to age eight times faster than normal. People with this disease also suffer heart problems, lack of growth and loss of body fat and hair.
The average life expectancy for a child with the disease is just 13 but she defied the odds to live four more years and also published an autobiography about living with the disease at the age of 14, entitled “old before my time”.
She had been treated in hospital for pneumonia from many days after that she returned home and died on the same day.
Her mother Kerry Okines posted on Facebook: “My baby girl has gone somewhere better. She took her last breath in my arms at 9.39 pm x”.
She has featured in a number of documentaries about her disease, including The Girl who is Older than Her Mother and World’s Oldest Teenager: Extraordinary People.
In her autobiography she wrote, “My name is Hayley Okines, people tell me I am very special. My Mum says I am one in eight million because my condition is so rare. When Mum and Dad first found out I had progeria the doctors said I would only live to 13. On December 3 2011, I was 14. I am not worried about dying. They said the Titanic wouldn’t sink but it did, so that proves experts can be wrong and I want to prove the doctors wrong”.
In an interview with channel 5, Hayley’s mother says, “When she was born, she had fine blonde hair, blue eyes. At 10 months she walked for the first time, me and her father we were so proud. The only concern was she was so tiny and didn’t appear to be growing. It was when she was still wearing clothes for a three-month-old at 13 months old that we took her to see a doctor and then the tests revealed her disorder. Hayley has been swimming with dolphins, traveled all over the world, met Prince Charles and her hero Justin Bieber”.
She surely won the hearts of millions as she inspired many people. Hundreds of comments have been left on Hayley’s Facebook page paying tribute to the teenager.
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