Story By: Basant Essam, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
A four-year-old boy suffering from a rare disease that makes him age rapidly is doing well at school where he is working hard to fulfil his dream of becoming a police officer or a dentist.
Zain was diagnosed at the age of six months with a rare genetic condition known as progeria, or Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, which causes its sufferers to age faster than usual.
Zain’s mother, Dina Agami, was worried that her son would struggle in school because of bullies but she says that thanks to the support of his teachers and friends he is enjoying his time and studying hard.
Dina told Sky News Arabiya: “When I noticed his features changed despite being born as a ‘normal’ child I thought it could be an issue with his diet, but his weight was stable, so I took him to hospital.
“The doctors advised me to follow up with a genetic disease doctor who shocked me when he explained that my son is suffering from a disease for which there is no treatment.”
According to the National Organisation for Rare Disorders (NORD), Children with progeria ‘die of heart disease (atherosclerosis) at an average age of 14.5 years’.
NORD also states: “Children with progeria have a characteristic facial appearance with a large head, smallmouth and chin, narrow nose and large eyes. Other symptoms include baldness, loss of fat under the skin, and dental and joint abnormalities.”
Dina was advised to contact an international medical centre in the US that specialises in premature ageing.
The centre treats the disease by giving the patient medicine that protects the heart and arteries.
Two years after starting the medical course Zain is yet to have suffered any negative effects from the drugs but Dina did say that she was warned of potential side effects.
Dina’s main concern has been how others would treat her son – but Zain’s father, Haitham, said: “We were very worried about Zain starting school but with all the support he received from teacher and children he has been able to overcome many obstacles inducing his anxiety.”
Haitham went on to thank the school for its support and added that his son is a very intelligent boy with a lot of charisma, who hopes to one day become a dentist or a police officer.