A 16-year-old teen beauty queen was devastated after a rare illness ravaged her looks in under two years – leaving her looking like a 50-year-old grandmother.
Raizel Grace Calago wowed pageant judges with her youthful face at competitions but in early 2020 her skin started to wrinkle like an old woman.
The high school student from Cotabato province, the Philippines, said her rapid ageing began with rashes appearing under her neck and face which were painful to touch and turns into rough wrinkles once dried up.
Hoping to get rid of the rashes that caused the wrinkles, she went to the doctors and asked for medicine but she was later diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic disorder called progeria or Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome.
Raizel said: ‘I’m still young but I already look old. Sometimes when I go out with my mother, people think I am older than her because of my appearance.’
The former beauty queen said that the changes in her body make her feel ashamed so she always wears a jacket and face mask whenever she is outside.
‘Our neighbours always asked me what happened to my face but I don’t know how to answer them. It has really affected my self-confidence,’ she added.
‘I’m afraid my looks will never return and I will have to live like this forever.’
Raizel had been living with the condition for more than a year and had only been to her local doctor, who was unable to make a diagnosis.
However, the youngster took part in a local TV show and this month one of the medics diagnosed her with progeria.
Dr James Young, one of the medics who diagnoses on the sick teenager, said there were only an estimated 200 documented cases of progeria around the world so it remained incurable due to lack of research.
He said: ‘There are only approximately 200 documented cases of progeria around the world. Most prominent manifestation of the patient is the wrinkling gene of the skin and stunted growth.’
The doctor added that Raizel would need to undergo more laboratory tests to check her general health as progeria patients were vulnerable to other complications.
He said: ‘One problem that we’ll be expecting is either heart attack, heart failure, or an increased risk of stroke.’
As her condition remain incurable, Raizel said she would just have to accept what happened to her and hope for the best.
She said: ‘I will just have to accept it and hope for the best in the future. I hope people could help us financially with my other medical needs.’