The Boy Who Looks Like He's 80

Twelve-year-old Seth Cook loves playing with his Xbox and his dog, Bullit. But based on his appearance, it seems more appropriate for him to spend his days reminiscing with retirees at the senior center.

Seth suffers from progeria, a rare, fatal genetic condition characterized by accelerated aging in children.

Seth looks 80 years old. He has no hair, his arteries have hardened, and he suffers from arthritis. He's only 3 feet tall and weighs 25 pounds.

Seth was 18 months old when he was diagnosed with progeria. He is one of 14 known sufferers of the disease in the United States and 42 worldwide, according to the Progeria Research Foundation.

"First it was -- you know -- denial," said Seth's father, Kyle Cook, 34.

"We thought: 'Oh my gosh, why him? Why us?'" said Seth's mother, Patti Cook, 33.

There is no known cause for progeria. In 2003, Leslie Gordon, medical director of the Progeria Research Foundation whose son also suffers from the disease, made headlines when she and a team of researchers discovered the gene responsible for the condition.

A cure or treatment, however, is still years away. Most victims die from a stroke or heart attack when they are teenagers.

"He [Seth] knows that his life is not going to be as long as everybody else's life," said Eileen Porch, Seth's teacher. "Being 13 years old is a very big wish and dream for him. He wants to be a teenager."

Seth takes an aspirin and blood thinner every day. His mother said that he was not really in pain, but that he felt uncomfortable at times. She said warm baths helped.

"Seth and I have always talked about heaven, and we've made sure that he knows what a wonderful place that is and that there will be people there waiting for him," Patti Cook said.

Seth dreams of building a house in heaven with rooms for his parents, his friends and his dog.

"It's got lots of rooms," Seth said. "It's going to be really neat."

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