A Grandma at 19 Years Old

I was shocked by this video.  I knew that children can suffer from premature ageing (progenia) and they usually pass away by the time they reach teen age from heart disease and stroke.  It’s a rare condition but well known because of it’s horrific effects.  Somehow it seems more horrific to find that it can occur in people after they have reached puberty.  Maybe it’s because children don’t really understand the full pleasures of life, they may know they are missing out on years but they don’t appreciate what those years can be like.  When someone has had a taste of adult life and be at their peak of health and hope only to have it snatched away, well that’s very hard indeed.

At the age of 17, Ita had just got married.  She was pretty and full of energy.  She made her living selling women’s clothes door to door in her North Sumatran village (Sumut = Sumatra Utara).  Now she is 19 and her life has changed as you can see.  Her husband has left her.  She feels extreme pain in the joints and back of the neck and she suffers from fevers.  Her parents have spent all their savings on medication and treatments.  Worst of all, people mock her, calling her ‘nenek’ (granny).

The disease is called Werner’s Syndrome, which occurs after puberty.  People with this illness can live into their 40s and 50s.  I read that a discovery was published in the January 2010 issue of a medical journal where it was found that vitamin C could cure mice who had been given the disease.  It didn’t increase the lifespan of normal mice, but the ones with the disease were restored to full health.  I haven’t heard of it being trialled in humans, though it would be harmless for someone to try it.

Sadly, it’s too late for Ita.  She passed away in February from pneumonia.  As for her husband?  He remarried shortly after this clip was made, a short while before she died.


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