A four-year-old boy suffers a remarkably rare condition that makes him look like an old man.
Bayezid Hossain, from outside Magura, southern Bangladesh, suffers a swollen face, hollow eyes, sagging skin, aching joints, difficulties passing urine and already has weak and broken teeth.
Children are afraid to play with him even though his intelligence levels are much higher than normal.
His 18-year-old mother, Tripti Khatun, who was only aged 14 when she gave birth to him, is amazed at her son’s mental abilities but is devastated when she sees him looking so unusual.
She said: ‘Bayezid only learned to walk aged three but he had a full set of teeth at three months old. His physical growth is completely abnormal but mentally, he has wonderful conversation, very aware and is very intuitive for his age. He does not look like other children. He looks like an old man. As a first time mother I can’t bear the pain of seeing my child like this.’
When Bayezid was born at a government maternity hospital, in 2012, Tripti and her husband Lovelu Hossain, 22, were devastated but doctors had no idea how to treat him.
‘I was terrified to see him when he was born. He was just flesh and bones.’
After they returned home news of little Bayezid quickly spread around the village with neighbours lining up outside their home to take a look at Bayezid. But there was little support.
People feared being close to him and often gossiped about the couple’s capabilities as parents.
Tripti married Lovelu, who works as a daily wage labourer and earns Rs 5,000 (£50) a month, when she was just 13-years-old. They are first cousins, which is normal practice in rural parts of Bangladesh and southern Asia and now live with Lovelu’s parents, grandfather Hashem Shikdar, 50, and grandmother Ayesha Begum, 40.
As Bayezid grew older both his personality and body developed much faster than other children in his village.
Tripti added: ‘He’s very stubborn and knows what he wants, and he gets very impatient. But he’s playful, his mind is very sharp, and he’s full of conversation.’
As time has passed his neighbours have slowly gotten used to his presence and have now fondly tagged him the ‘old man’.
Bayezid doesn’t go to school but he loves to play with his ball, drawing on paper, and even breaking his toys so he can fix them back up again.
Lovelu said he has already spent approximately Rs 4 Lakh (£4,000) since Bayezid was born on seeing different doctors and healers but nothing has changed for the little boy.
He added: ‘We’ve been to hospitals, shrines, fakirs, shamans— whoever suggested whatever. Yet his situation remains the same and he’s probably getting even worse day by day. My son isn’t a normal baby and it’s tragic for any parent to know that his child will not survive for long.
‘I am proud of him. He is extremely intelligent compared to other children of his age.’
Debashis Bishwas, a consultant from Magura Central Hospital, in Magura, met with Bayezid last month and believes he is suffering from an element of Progeria and Cutis Laxa but fears he may only live for 15 years.
He said: ‘His signs suggest he is suffering from a very difficult disease. The skin of a Progeria patient start getting loosened like an elderly person months after birth. We can only advise the family to get specialized care in a hospital like Dhaka Medical College Hospital or Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka, as there’s no treatment here.’
Lovelu understands there may not be a cure for his son’s condition but he fears their poor condition means Bayezid is not getting the best possible chance of survival.
He added: ‘His mother is in uncontrollable tears all the time. It has been four years now and nothing has changed. It is so painful to see that our first child suffers a disease we cannot even treat. We’d like more children but we’re too scared. We feel very helpless. Like every other parent, we want our baby to live a long and healthy life but we feel only a miracle will save us now.’