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    Posted May 27, 2013 by
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    Sweet Sixteen


    There are approximately eighty-nine currently known cases of Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome or Progeria syndrome in the world, two of which are from the Philippines, one being Anna Rochelle Pondare, a girl from Bulacan.


    Progeria, a terminal illness that accelerates the aging process, makes a child’s body grow up to a hundred years old before they reach their teens. Progeria signs start to show at around eighteen to twenty-four months with lack of growth, loss of body fat and hair, aged-looking skin, stiffness of joints and hip dislocation being some of the common physical signs.


    Children with Progeria have an average life expectancy of thirteen to fifteen years but today on May 26, 2013, Sunday, Rochelle defied the odds as she celebrated her sixteenth birthday with a surprise birthday party at Jollibee, a popular fast food chain in the Philippines.


    Conceived by people who love and care for her, the surprise birthday party was attended by Rochelle's family and friends, along with volunteers of Project Michelangelo Foundation and children from Carmel Child Development and Learning Center. The day was indeed special as not only was it an important milestone in her life with Progeria, it was also a celebration of her coming of age, her sweet sixteen.


    Asked what her birthday wish was, she uttered softly, "that I may live longer." With the recent success and continuous progress of the two-and-a-half-year drug trial done on twenty-eight children from sixteen countries, representing seventy-five percent of known Progeria cases worldwide, there is a big possibility of the realization of Rochelle's wish.

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