4 year old boy battles rare aging disease

By: Katherine Rufener Email
By: Katherine Rufener Email

For those that live a full life, the complications that come with an aging body are expected, but no one expects arthritis, thin skin and other symptoms of old age from a child.

That's the reality 4 year old Cameron, of Stevensville, Michigan, faces every day. Two years ago we introduced you to Cam, and from his high energy playing to his infectious laugh, he's just like any other Preschooler. However one thing makes Cameron very different from other children his age, a disease called Progeria.

Cameron's mother Stephanie Howard describes Progeria this way. "Progeria is a premature aging disease. It's extremely rare. There are only 16 kids in the United States that have Progeria. They basically age about seven to eight times faster than normal children," she said. "They don't have any hair," she continued. "They're a little bit shorter in height and they have very little body fat."

Cameron's father Jason says it's difficult for them to get him to eat anything. He's very picky, but does enjoy french fries, potato chips, and pudding.

Progeria makes Cameron's body age very quickly and because of that, the Howards say people often have questions. Stephanie said, "The initial question is what are those veins on his head. That's usually the very first question. Why doesn't he have any hair?"

Even though Cam battles some of the same symptoms a person in the later stages of their life would, such as arthritis, he doesn't let it slow him down for a minute.

In addition to his parents, Cameron also gets support from his big sister Riley. "If he wants something to drink and daddy is on the telephone and mommy's at work, I go get him something to drink," Riley said.

Cameron's family stays positive about his future, but Progeria is fatal. Most children with the disease pass away from heart complications. As of now there is no cure, and the average life expectancy is only 13 years old.

However, the phrase "give up" isn't in the Howards' vocabulary, and they're going to any lengths they can to help their son. Right now, he's on a drug trial that's sponsored through the Progeria Research Foundation. Stephanie says the trial isn't a cure, but doctors hope it will help extend the lives of children with Progeria.

The family is also making sure that anyone who wants to help children with Progeria can. They're holding a 5K walk and run called Kilometers for Cam on Saturday, September 25 by Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan. You can register on line. Just follow the link on the Big Red Bar. People can also register the day of the event. All of the money raised from the event goes to support Progeria research.

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