Nihal Bitla, the country’s first progeria patient, is no more. The 15-year-old breathed his last following dehydration at his native Poosala village of Sultanabad mandal in Karimnagar district on Tuesday.
Nihal and his parents Bitla Srinivas and Sridevi, who had migrated to Bhiwandi in Maharashtra a decade ago, came to their native village on April 18 to attend a marriage on April 23 and stayed back to spend some time with relatives. Due to the severe heat wave conditions prevailing in the region, he developed diarrhoea and was shifted to a private hospital here but died while undergoing treatment.
The youngster, who is the face of ‘progeria’ patient in India and one who inspired Amitabh Bachchan to essay a similar role in reel life, in the 2007 production ‘Paa’, was actually a big fan of Aamir Khan and loved him for ‘Taare Zameen Par’, a film that had inspired him a lot. Apart from meeting Aamir Khan and getting a lot of goodies as gifts, he travelled a while in the star’s Lambhorgini.
(Progeria or Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome is a genetic disorder that accelerates the ageing process of children, leading to premature death. It is incurable and has an incidence of one in eight million. Nihal was just 15 years old but looked over 70 years. There are 124 children suffering from progeria in the world and 60 of them were identified in India by the Progeria Research Foundation.)