On 17th December, Nihal Bitla had said on a Facebook post that he wanted to meet Aamir Khan. Nihal has progeria — an extremely rare genetic disorder in which symptoms of aging manifest at a very early age.
The Aamir Khan movie Taare Zameen Par had given Nihal courage, and he wanted to be able to thank the actor in person.
You might recall seeing progeria depicted in the Amitabh Bacchan movie Paa. This is what Nihal had to say:
When I was in the 4th standard and the movie Paa released, my classmates began teasing me and calling me Auro — I felt terrible at that point, so I came home and told my parents. My dad told me to tell them ‘to chill’ and that ‘I’m special’ – so I did. I don’t blame those who don’t understand me, they like me are children after all.
The Better India, among others, had carried the original Humans of Bombay post that eventually led to the meeting. Here it is:
Yesterday, Nihal’s dream came true.
When the teenager met the superstar, he gifted Khan a drawing of Ganesha, and in turn received a big bag of goodies — including board games and DVDs.
The post-meeting Facebook post:
Nihal has requested Aamir Khan’s support with the Progeria Research Foundation, which aims to identify and find treatment for 60 children with progeria. Watch this video to learn more about this disorder and the work being done by the foundation:
[embedvideo id=”JxWo4k5iJpU” website=”youtube”]
Progeria, which is almost never inherited and is instead caused due to a rare genetic mutation, has an incidence rate of 1 in 8 million.
People with the disorder rarely survive beyond their mid-teens or early twenties.
While progeria is physically debilitating, it does not adversely affect mental development — sufferers have normal or above average intelligence.