A 16-year-old girl suddenly looked like a 50-year-old woman in a span of only two years due to a rare genetic disorder that caused her to age rapidly.
In an episode of "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho," Raizel Calago said she started to join beauty pageants when she was 14 because of her mature looks.
Unfortunately, her face, neck, arms, and tummy started to develop wrinkles just days after she noticed that she has rashes on her body.
"It's like the skin of a bitter melon since it's really wrinkly," Raizel said in Filipino.
"I had patches which started getting red and itchy. It was painful to touch," she added.
According to Raizel, she once went for a checkup and was told that she got the condition from an insect. She was given medication, but it did not have an effect.
Aside from the physical changes, Raizel said she has also been suffering from backaches when she inclines her body for a long time and stands back up.
Due to these changes, Raizel said people have been commenting that she looks 50 years old. Often, some would even think that her mom Joela, 36, is younger than her.
"It's painful when they tell me that my daughter looks older than me. Sometimes, I imagine her when she grows old and see how beautiful she could be," Joela said in Filipino.
"She was beautiful ever since she was a baby but now, her face, it's so far from her beauty when she was younger," the mother said.
Since then, Raizel started to go out with her face and body covered with a face mask, pants and jacket—even before the pandemic began.
"They ask me why my looks got older. I don't answer them because I also don't know what happened," she said. "I don't blame my parents because they also don't know."
Raizel said her only wish is to go back to normal.
"I always pray that I'll get better and my old skin and looks would go back. If so, I'll be able to hang with my friends again. I can't now because I'm ashamed,” she said.
The "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho" team brought Raizel to clinical endocrinologist Dr. James Young, whose initial diagnosis is progeria.
"We only have about 200 documented cases around the world," Young said. "The most prominent manifestation is the wrinkling or aging of the skin and stunted growth."
"The head is also prominent and we also see skin lesions in patients which are usually seen in areas that are exposed to sunlight," he added.
Young said progeria can also result in other illnesses so further laboratory tests are still needed.
"One problem that we'll be expecting is either heart attack or heart failure, also increased risk of stroke," he said adding that these are commonly experienced at 14 years old.
Although Raizel has no cardiovascular problems so far, Young said it's also important to check other parts of her body, including her bones.
"We want to know if there are changes in her bones' density because osteoporosis is very common among these patients. The degenerative joint disease is common in aging," he said.
Asked if there's still a chance for Raizel to go back to her younger self, Young said there is nothing that can be done about it.
"This is going to be persistent. The only thing we can do is treat the cardiovascular as well as the skeletal problems (if there is any)," he said.
After receiving the news, the mother and daughter are asking for help for Raizel's treatment.
"Please help my child because us, her parents, we don't know what to do since we also lack money," Joela said.
"To those who are kind-hearted, I hope you'll be able to help me since we really have nothing," Raizel said.
For interested parties, you may send your cash donations to Joela Omagap Calago through the Banco De Oro - Cotabato - Kidapawan Branch (003320396050).
—Franchesca Viernes/MGP, GMA News