Remembering Ontlametse Phalatse
By Zuko Komisa
Ontlametse Phatlatse, the 18-year old young lady who recently visited Kaya FM’s Kaya Central on World Progeria Day, has, sadly, passed away. Ontlametsi was one of two South Africans diagnosed with Progeria, which is an extremely rare genetic disorder.
Those with progeria undergo rapid aging from childhood, getting diseases that are expected in their 50s and beyond, such as heart disease, bone loss, etc. The physical manifestations of the progeria include hair loss, (including eyelashes and eyebrows), large eyes, small lower jaw, high-pitched voice and loss of body fat and muscle.
Ontlametse, who was the only known black female born with the disease, was never expected by doctors to live beyond the age of 14, however, on March 25th, she celebrated her 18th birthday. Two days before her birthday, she fulfilled her dream of meeting President Jacob Zuma before turning 18.
Full of energy and enthusiasm during her visit to Kaya Central, she talked about her favourite music and musicians, such as Lira, Hotstix Mabuse Mercy Phakela and Caiphus Semenya as well as the challenges of living with progeria.
She passed away at Dr George Mukhari Hospital surrounded by friends and family.
We remember her with love and sadness. She was a beautiful reminder that life should be lived to the fullest, regardless of what it throws at.