The poverty-stricken parents of a four-year-old boy who suffers from a condition that makes him look like a senior citizen hold little hope of treating the child, who is an outcast in his Bangladeshi village. He has a mind of a four-year-old but the looks of an 80-year-old senior citizen.
Bayezid Hossain, from Magura in southern Bangladesh, has a disease that ages the body at eight times the normal rate. His parents are in search of therapy for their son's incurable progeria, the so-called Benjamin Button disease
which makes him age eight times faster than normal.
‘Four year old Bangladeshi boy suffers from Progeria. This condition causes his body to age at a faster rate. He also suffers from a rare connective tissue disorder which causes the skin to hang loosely in folds.’
But for his mother and father, who earn less than $100 a month, Bayezid's problems go beyond the financial. He has a swollen face, saggy skin, achy joints and difficulties passing urine.
His 18-year-old mother, Tripti Khatun, said that he grew a full set of teeth when he was just three months old. But now at four, his teeth are already weak and broken, said the report. Progeria patients typically don't live past 13 years old. He also reportedly has a form of cutis laxa, a rare connective tissue disorder which causes the skin to hang loosely in folds. Combined, the skin of such a patient can start getting loose like an elderly person months after birth.
Bayezid understands his condition, but he doesn't like talking about it. "He just cries when he feels awkward," said his father, Lovelu Hossain, 22.
He doesn't go to school because other children are afraid of him. When he was born, he became the talk of the village when neighbors heard about the birth of the abnormal child.
"I was terrified to see him when he was born. He was just flesh and bones. He looked like an alien and it was heartbreaking for me," said Tripti.
People feared being close to Bayezid and often gossiped about the couple's capabilities as parents, as Tripti and Lovelu are first cousins. In rural parts of Bangladesh, it is not uncommon for cousins to marry. But as time went by, neighbours slowly grew used to Bayezid's presence and now fondly call him the 'old man'.
Lovelu revealed that he has already spent Rs 4 Lakh (S$7,088) seeking medical attention for Bayezid. The couple has tried taking him to doctors, shamans and all sorts of healers but none have been able to treat their son's condition. While Bayezid is perfectly cognitive for his age, his parents fear that his physical condition might be worsening.
"My son isn't a normal baby and it's tragic for any parent to know that his child will not survive for long," said Lovelu. Despite his isolated existence and the family hardships, Ms Khatun says her first child is the light of her life. She says that he is extremely intelligent compared to other children of his age
Children who age rapidly are said to be suffering from the 'Benjamin Button disease' that inspired Brad Pitt's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" movie. Bayezid is not the only child suffering from such a disease. In India, a pair of young siblings Anjali Kumari, 7, and Keshav Kumar, who is about two, also suffer from the same physical pains and emotional taunts for looking decades older than what they actually are.