Nihal Bitla, the face of Progeria in India, passes away at 15

Nihal Bitla, the face of Progeria in India, passes away at 15

By: || Updated: 04 May 2016 12:16 PM
New Delhi: Nihal Shrinivas Bitla, teenager who was suffering from rare genetic disorder progeria, has passed away at a hospital in Telangana at the age of 15.

"Nihal, your contagious smile, positive attitude, inspiring chats, optimistic outlook will give us strength for years to come. You have left us behind with heavy hearts for a higher place, Rest in peace our dear friend. Our thoughts and condolences with family and friends," Team Nihal, the Facebook page that manages the progeria campaign, posted last night.

Photo Courtesy: Team Nihal (Facebook) Photo Courtesy: Team Nihal (Facebook)

Nihal's body grew 8 times faster and manifested the various aspects of aging at a very young due to progeria.

Nihal and his family went to Telangana to attend a wedding. Where he was admitted to a local hospital after getting severely dehydrated. Doctors suspect that Nihal’s hardened arteries contributed to his sudden death, reported the Hindustan Times.

Nihal with his parents. Photo Courtesy: Team Nihal Nihal with his parents. Photo Courtesy: Team Nihal

In one of his last interactions Nihal told Humans of Bombay:

"To be honest I don't know much about the illness I have, except that I have the rare power of being young and old at the same time. That makes me believe that I can send a message to people. A message that life can go by quickly and that each day is more valuable than the next. I also believe that everything happens for a reason and I'm happy everyday. The way I look at it I've been given a finite time to do everything I love every single day without fear. Above all, I hope that people know that our time here is special and life is incredibly beautiful in every single way."

"My parents found out I had progeria when I was 1 year old, but they continued to give me a normal lifestyle. Like any other child, I went to school everyday, played with my classmates and did my homework. When I was in the 4th standard and the movie Paa released, my classmates began teasing me and calling me Auro -- I felt terrible at that point, so I came home and told my parents. My dad told me to tell them 'to chill' and that 'i'm special' - so I did. I don't blame those who don't understand me, they like me are children after all."

Nihal with Aamir Khan. Photo Courtesy: Team Nihal Nihal with Aamir Khan. Photo Courtesy: Team Nihal

Last year, Nihal got to meet his idol Aamir Khan following a Facebook post, where it was mentioned that the latter wanted to meet the “PK” star and thank him for the 2007 film “Taare Zameen Par”, which gave him courage. Thereafter, Aamir shared that he was keen to meet his 14-year-old special fan, and he ensured they met.

“Thank you Aamir uncle for making my dream come true. Your "’Taare Zameen Par’’ always inspired me to face adverse situations and I was always knew that one day I will meet you,” Nihal had said after meeting Aamir.

Progeria is an extremely rare genetic disorder wherein symptoms resembling aspects of ageing are manifested at a very early age. It was megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s portrayal as Auro in “Paa”, which brought forth the disease into mainstream knowledge.

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