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Harry, 11, Is Only Boy In The World With Rare Form Of Progeria

April 24, 2010

He’s still at primary school and loves to climb trees and ride his bike. But due to a rare genetic condition, 11-year-old Harry Crowther is already turning into an old man.

His skin is thinning, his hair grows slowly and he suffers from the physical problems of a pensioner.

Because Harry’s body is ageing five times faster than other children, he is in constant pain from arthritis and he becomes tired easily.

Harry CrowtherHarry Crowther’s body is ageing five times faster than his contemporaries – and he is the only person in the world with this condition

His parents Sharron and John know his life will be cut short by the incurable Atypical Progeria Syndrome (APS).


‘I can do a lot of things other children can do, but sometimes it stops me doing what I like doing because I ache.

‘It feels weird and hurts most when I’m in bed’

But the cub scout from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, refuses to be beaten by his condition, and his bravery has been honoured with the Chief Scout’s award for meritorious conduct.

On Sunday he will attend the St George’s Day Parade at Windsor Castle after receiving his award from Chief Scout Bear Grylls.

Harry, who goes to Crossley Fields junior school in Mirfield, is one of only a handful of people in the world to suffer from APS, and no one else has exactly the same form as him.

The oldest sufferer of a similar condition lived to the age of 26.


Harry Crowther and SharronHarry, pictured with his mother Sharron, takes painkillers four times a day. He said: ‘I get upset when people who don’t know me stare and it’s annoying going to hospitals’

His 40-year-old mother, a preschool deputy manager, said: ‘It’s just a sit and wait game. Because the change in Harry’s genes is unique, they cannot say what’s going to happen.

‘We have had our tears and the “why us?” moments like every family would have, but we have to remember he is walking, talking and is in mainstream school. It is just that his body is a bit different.’

Harry’s skin began tightening when he was a year old, but his symptoms baffled doctors until his parents saw a TV documentary about a girl with a similar condition. He was diagnosed at the age of seven.

Harry's condition baffled doctors until his parents saw a  documentary about a girl with similar symptomsHarry’s condition baffled doctors until his parents saw a documentary about a girl with similar symptoms

He does daily exercises to help loosen his stiff and aching joints and takes painkillers regularly.

Mrs Crowther, her husband John, 41, a company director, and their other children Emma, 16, and Jack, 14, are helping Harry to raise public awareness about his condition.

The family have posted a Facebook page with regular updates.

‘His school and his classmates have been brilliant,’ his mother said. ‘He is just Harry to them.

‘If we go out he gets tired and he can’t do activities like football because he has no body fat.

‘But we don’t wrap him up in cotton wool. He is a brave and cheerful boy.’

Harry said: ‘I can do a lot of things other children can do, but sometimes it stops me doing what I like doing because I ache.

‘It feels weird and hurts most when I’m in bed. I get upset when people who don’t know me stare and it’s annoying going to hospitals.’

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