Meet Enzo Cornejo, Adelaide’s one-in-20 million boy who is squeezing more joy, friendship and Vegemite into a day than most of us.
Diagnosed with the rare condition progeria – the disease of premature and rapid ageing – this bright and energetic 11-year-old is shrugging off medical complaints usually associated with the elderly, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, and the risk of arteriosclerosis.
The only known Australian with progeria, Enzo hits the ground running each day, just another boy at school who loves playing with his friends.
“I like being different because I love my body,” Enzo says. “Also, I’m a handsome boy. I’m happy just being me.”
Enzo, who is in year 5 at St Mary’s Memorial School, Glenelg, has reached an age where his parents, Catherina Llontop and Percy Cornejo, want him to be a more familiar face in the Adelaide community, so he can move around without a fuss. He is well known at his school where new students are told there is a special boy ahead of them. But he has not been introduced more widely before because he was too young to talk about it.
He grew up knowing he was special but only understood progeria about a year ago after Llontop and one of his therapists compiled a My Story booklet that charted his birth, diagnosis and symptoms. It gave him the language he needed to talk about it.
“It kind of makes my body very old, very quickly,” he explains. “It makes my veins very visible and also my heart is very delicate, and I don’t have much hair.”
Click here to download the full article.