Girl who aged eight times times faster than her friends dies at the tender age of 8
We pray for the Parke family...
Consider yourself lucky if you're living a thriving healthy life with little or no ailments to worry about. Because there exist numerous people out there who suffer from the heart, mind or body and wish they had a life like yours.
Take Lucy Parke's life for instance. This happy-go-lucky eight-year-old passed away earlier this week after suffering from Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, that she was diagnosed with shortly after her birth.
For the unknowing, Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, commonly known as Progeria, is a distinctly rare condition that affects one in every four million people. The condition causes the patient to age prematurely.
It is estimated that only 134 children across 46 countries live with the condition that is caused by a mutation in the lamin-A gene. One symptom of the condition entails severe hardening of the arteries at a very young age. Other symptoms comprise body and fat loss, hair loss and slow, stunted growth along with an average life expectancy of 13 years.
A life worth remembering
Lucy, from Ballyward, Co Down, Ireland passed away amidst family and friends on New Year's day and was buried in a small pink coffin with her father as one of the pallbearers.
Social media was flooded with tributes from all corners of the world who remembered the young girl and her family in their prayers.
One among them was author Catherine Campbell, who had interviewed Stephanie for her book When We Can't, God Can who stated how several people had been encouraged and blessed by Lucy's presence.
"She was beautiful in every way, but had the premature aging condition Progeria, and fought bravely against the effects it had on her tiny body these past eight years," she wrote on Facebook. "Lucy is now free from pain and limitation, but please pray for her wonderful family who is devastated by her passing. I am so blessed to have met this amazing little girl, and feel Stephanie and David's pain very keenly today," she wrote further.
Lucy was born on November 10, 2009, but barely after turning four months old, she had to undergo a hip operation and she also suffered from contractions of her knees and ankles. With a poor appetite, she wasn't putting on much weight and shortly after she turned nine months, she was diagnosed with Progeria.
Despite her physiological shortcomings, Lucy was a cherubic girl, who like any other three-year-old, liked to sing and play with other children. But unlike other children, she suffered from stunted growth along with arthritis and heart problems that contributed to her shorter life expectancy.
Stephanie Parke, Lucy's mother told The Down Recorder: "We have been to two reunions in England, October 2011, and Italy, December 2012, with the European Family Circle and we are going to one in England in August for six days. It's a good opportunity for Lucy to meet other children like her and have the same limitations. She is very shy but when she gets to play with other children she comes out of herself."
The Lucy Parke Progeria Fund was started shortly after Lucy's diagnosis in 2010 in order to amass financial help for her treatment as friends, neighbors, and strangers wanted to help in whatever way they could.
"We are very grateful to everyone who has helped her financially and in prayer over the years. At the minute there is no type of treatment, but the Progeria Foundation is trying to find a cure. Because there are so few children in the world there is limited research able to be done," Stephanie explained.
Lucy would attend regular hospital check-ups and was living the life of an adequately healthy child before her condition worsened. However, David (Lucy's father) and Stephanie were in contact with doctors from Progeria Research Foundation in America and France to find out about possible treatments that could have helped Lucy live a longer life.
But to no avail.
It never is easy for a parent to witness their child wither away slowly right in front of their eyes and for Stephanie and David, the situation was even rougher. But not the kind to give up so soon, both believed that Lucy came to their life for a divine purpose.
"Lucy was sent to us for a reason and we thank God for her daily. She has enlightened our family and we have grown closer to God and stronger in our faith because of her. She has changed our lives and will continue to impact the lives of so many others in Northern Ireland and throughout the world," Stephanie explained.
According to Belfast Live, the family issued a statement which said: "We have lost our precious Lucy. Her body was weak but her heart was strong. Her love for life and wonderful smile made us proud to be her parents."
We remember Lucy and her family in our prayers.