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South Africa mourns its ‘First Lady,’ who outlived medical predictions

Ontlametse Phalatse, an 18-year-old South African lady with a rare genetic disorder that caused her to age rapidly has died at a hospital outside of the capital Pretoria.

She was the first South African to be diagnosed with Progeria – a rare abnormality marked by premature aging (grey hair and wrinkled skin and stooped posture) usually in children.

By virtue of being the first Progeria patient, she described herself as ‘the First Lady.’ She managed to live beyond medical prescriptions that said she would live to the age of 14.

A brave young fighter has fallen. May her spirit inspire all others living with disabilities or facing any difficulty, to soldier on as she did and live life to the fullest. We are really proud of her.

She met with President Jacob Zuma during her 18th birthday. The Presidency thus joined in expressing condolences over her death. The official government handle shared a photo she took with Zuma during their meeting.

‘‘A brave young fighter has fallen. May her spirit inspire all others living with disabilities or facing any difficulty, to soldier on as she did and live life to the fullest. We are really proud of her,” President Zuma said.

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