Rochelle Pondare, who's suffering from extremely rare disease called Progeria is only 18 years old, though she may look like over 100 years of age. The condition, which has left the brave girl with a body of 144-year-old, makes her age prematurely, creates difficulty in walking and leaves her short of breath among other problems.
The teenager was diagnosed with Progeria when she was five years old, and with only 100 children around the world have the condition who often do not live beyond their early teens, she is already one of the oldest progeria patients in the world. The brave girl, who has six siblings, keeps a carefree attitude, dresses up stylishly, and even works on her family's fruit and vegetable stall, where she is popular with customers for her cheerful and friendly personality.
Rochelle will be featured in a new series of Body Bizarre, which will follow her as she is accepted on an international research trial, and invited by the charity Project Michelangelo Foundation to undergo tests at Boston Children's Hospital in the USA. She will be screened for the new drug, called Lonafarnib, which has been shown to reduce organ and vein damage, delaying the ageing effects of progeria.
Dr Mark Kieran at the hospital said that it looked like the drug prolonged the survival by reducing some of the heart and blood vessel damage that the disease does. It cannot be seen as a cure-all for this disease, but could help Rochelle live into her 20s, he added. Progeria is caused by a genetic mutation which causes the cells of a patient's body to malfunction, effecting the tissues and organs, and causing children to age dramatically.