Sunday, 4 December 2011

Britain's 110 Year Old Teenager Launches Her Autobiography

On December 3 2011 teenager Hayley Okines was 14.

Nothing unusual about that, you might say?

But Hayley is unlike no other teenager. She is one of only 80 children in the world suffering from the rare genetic condition progeria, which means she ages eight times faster than the average person. It's a condition which affects one in eight million children and in medical terms she has the body of a 110-year-old woman.

The average life expectancy of progeria children is 13. Her best friend with progeria died at the age of 11. So Hayley never expected to see her 14th birthday. But thanks to her part in pioneering drug trials in America over the last four years, Hayley is now looking forward to her life as a young woman. In the new year she returns to Boston to take part in trials for a drug which has been dubbed 'the elixir of life' and which scientists hope could extend life for all humans.

To mark her special birthday, Hayley has launched her memoir Old Before My Time: Hayley Okines' Life With Progeria with Accent Press Ltd. In it Hayley and her mum Kerry, 37, describe the highs and lows of Hayley's full life, which has taken her to many places beyond the reach of a normal teenager. She has travelled the world and fulfilled many of her dreams which include meeting her pop idols Kylie Minogue and Justin Bieber, crocodile hunting with the late Steve Irwin and being a mascot for Chelsea Football Club. She even persuaded HRH Prince Charles to sign an autograph for her.

Now Hayley's dream is to become a best-selling author in time for her birthday and a Twitter campaign has been set up by her friends and supporters to get her into the book charts alongside her writing heroes. Hayley's book charted at number 11 on the Amazon best-sellers list last month on pre-order sales alone and is currently number one in its category on Amazon and No 1 in pre-orders on Play.com

Hayley says: 'I have always loved reading, so having a book about me is really cool. Writing my book has helped me to remember all the happy and sad times in my life.'

Here's what the celebs say:

'Hayley's an extraordinary girl' Kylie Minogue


'Hayley just lights up a room. She's so full of happiness she lights up a room'. Lorraine Kelly


'Hayley possesses one of the strongest life-forces we have ever encountered.' Richard & Judy

FACTFILE:

Hayley and her mum Kerry live in Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex, with her younger brother and sister, Louis and Ruby. Since the age of four Hayley has been the face of Channel 5's critically acclaimed Extraordinary People. Her films have aired to audiences of 1.7 million and by raising awareness of this cruel and incredibly rare condition she is now recognised wherever she goes. Her fifth documentary Hayley Okines: World's Oldest Teenager was broadcast on C5 last month.

Follow Hayley's blog hayleyokines.wordpress.com

Old Before My Time: My Life With Progeria by Hayley and Kerry Okines Published by Accent Press Ltd, 2011, price £9.99. ISBN: 978 1 9081 9255 4

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