A 17-year-old who suffered from a rare genetic condition that left her with the body of an elderly woman has died.
Hayley Okines had progeria, which meant that as a child, her body aged at a rapid rate — eight times faster than the average person. She was known as Britain’s 100-year-old teenager.
The Telegraph reported that Okines, who had sought treatment in the United States, had “the body of a 104-year-old.” According to the BBC, Okines had been hospitalized recently, but had gone home before her death.
The BBC noted that her mother, Kerry, announced Okines’s death on Thursday night, writing: “My baby has gone somewhere better. She took her last breath in my arms at 9.39pm.”
“The entire Progeria family mourns together with many as we say goodbye to Hayley Okines, our smart, beautiful and spirited English Rose, who passed away today at age 17,” the Progeria Research Foundation posted on Facebook. “‘Gone from our sight, but never our memories, gone from our touch but never our hearts…’ We will miss you.”
— Progeria Research (@Progeria) April 3, 2015
“I don’t feel like I’m 96,” she said several years ago. “Everyone says I’m like all my friends and stuff. [They say] ‘How old are you, really?’ I’m like, I’m 12.”
She was also the feature of multiple documentaries, including “The Child Who’s Older Than Her Mother.”
The attention brought Okines some measure of fame, her mother once said, according to the Mirror.
“We decided that if she wasn’t going to live long, at least we would make her life special and pack it with wonderful memories. So she’s been swimming with dolphins, traveled all over the world, met Prince Charles, Kylie Minogue and Justin Bieber … She’s often instantly recognizable and has mini-celebrity status.”
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) April 3, 2015
Three years ago, Okines also met the Wanted, a British boy band that has since gone on hiatus. On Friday, one of the group’s members, Nathan Sykes, paid tribute to Okines.
Heartbroken to hear about Hayley Okines. One of the sweetest people I have ever met with such a big heart. Gonna miss you Trouble. RIP xxx
— Nathan Sykes (@NathanSykes) April 3, 2015
Okines passed away a little over a year after the death of American teenager Sam Berns, subject of the HBO documentary “Life According to Sam.”
Okines “had been told she would not live past the age of 13,” according to the BBC.
But she blew past that prognosis. As the materials accompanying her second memoir, 2014’s “Young at Heart,” noted:
“As she approaches her 17th birthday, four years beyond the average life expectancy, Hayley looks forward to an independent and healthy future and tries hard not to think of what lies ahead.”
— Wendy KL Martini (@bluesbarbers) April 3, 2015
[This post has been updated.]