BALIA (BEGUSARAI): Prachi from Bihar’s Begusarai district walks like a normal child and is as playful as a three-and-a-half year old baby expected to be. But she suffers from a rare birth defect known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome or simply progeria which may not allow her to live after she turns a teen. 

The disease occurs in one in four to eight million children where they age fast and die younger. It was the subject of ‘Paa’ in which Amitabh Bachchan played Auro, a progeria patient. 

Daughter of daily wager Vikas Kumar Sah and Savitri Devi of Bela village, Prachi is acutely malnourished. But the malnourishment proved a blessing in disguise. It was because of her malnourishment that National Rehabilitation Centre volunteers spotted her during their drive to help malnourished children. She was brought to the of the block hospital at Balia where doctors found out that she was suffering from progeria.

Prachi has a small face with bulging eyes. Her head is disproportionately big and she has almost lost her hair. The few remaining tresses have turned thin and brown. Her blue veins are visible right on forehead and skin has become so coarse that doctors regularly apply lotion on it. “These symptoms will manifest more prominently as she ages further,” said a doctor. 

But her IQ is good, said Dr Kundan Kumar who is currently treating her. Having overcome initial shyness on seeing a stranger, Prachi rattled off the names of her parents and four siblings flawlessly. She even remembers the names of grandparents, all her uncles and aunts. “Mera gaon Bela Bakhri thana mein hai (My village Bela falls under the Bakhri police station area),” Prachi said. 

Savitri told TOI her daughter knew and remembered all that even a year ago when she was only two and a half years old. 

Prachi’s ward remains abuzz with her activities as she keeps running around in the ward. The hospital employees leave no stone unturned to keep her happy. “She is kind of family,” said nurse Vandana Bharti.

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