A GIRL with a rare ageing disease who became known as the "100-year-old teenager" has died at the age of 17.
Hayley Okines was born with progeria, a rare condition that caused her body to age eight times faster than normal.
Progeria usually begins within the first two years of birth, when symptoms such as slow growth and hair loss began to appear. The average life expectancy for a child with the disease is just 13, but Hayley defied all odds and lived for another four years.
Hayley, from Bexhill, in East Sussex, became a spokesperson and fundraiser for the condition and campaigned for greater awareness throughout her teens. She released her autobiography at the age of 14, entitled Old Before My Time.
She had been treated in hospital for pneumonia over the past few days and returned home on Thursday. She died on the same day, according to the BBC.
Her mother Kerry confirmed her death on Thursday evening on Facebook, writing: "My baby has gone somewhere better. She took her last breath in my arms at 9.39pm."
The US-based Progeria Research Foundation paid an emotional tribute to Hayley on its Facebook page, where it said: "The entire Progeria family mourns together with many as we say goodbye to Hayley Okines, our smart, beautiful and spirited English Rose."
Comments have been flooding in on a Facebook page dedicated to the teenager. One user praised Hayley's strength and determination, writing: "God bless you Hayley. Your positive outlook and willingness to share your life's journey with us has been very much appreciated."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.