Mumbai’s only child with progeria, 15-year-old Nihal Bitla, breathed his last on Monday night at his native place in Telangana. The Bhiwandi resident was attending a family wedding when he suffered brain stroke and was admitted to a hospital in Karim Nagar. The Boston-based Progeria Research Foundation announced Nihal’s death on his facebook page today. Nihal Bitla is one of the 60 children in India who has been diagnosed with progeria. Nihal was treated at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, US, to receive the only known treatment for progeria.
Progeria or Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, from which Nihal Bitla suffered, causes accelerated aging in children, leading to premature death mostly due to heart attacks. It is incurable and has an incidence of one in four million. Nihal, while aged 15, had a body that felt like it was beyond 90 years old.
Despite his efforts to raise awareness, Nihal had to deal with stigma from the disease and stopped going to school. He liked painting and had the opportunity to personally gift one of his works to actor Aamir Khan. The Bollywood actor met Nihal Bitla after he found out the boy wanted to meet him.
There are 124 other such children who have been identified with progeria globally.
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