Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachhan memorable role of a progeria patient in Hindi movie Paa was widely appreciated and won him several awards. However, a 21-year-old youth in a small village in Allahabad has been struggling to get assistance in his fight against this rare disease which has crippled him since childhood.
Rupesh lives with his parents in Dharecha village of Hanumanganj in the district. He is being taken care by a local doctor who also runs an NGO.
Rupesh’s father Ramapati, a small farmer, said his son was born normal but started complaining of aches in his head, legs and other parts of the body when he was two years old.
The family consulted several doctors but none of them could diagnose the ailment. They gave him painkillers, which proved to be helpful only for some hours.
Rupesh’s body started showing abnormal changes as he grew older. His head became bigger while his body shrivelled. At just 21, Rupesh now looks like an old man, Ramapati lamented.
In a bizarre turn of events a few years back, a circus group approached Ramapati and offered him a huge amount of money in exchange for Rupesh.
They wanted to show Rupesh as a peculiar creature to the audience to earn money but he refused, Ramapati said.
Rupesh’s mother Shanti Devi said that now Rupesh cannot do anything on his own. He even needs help while eating and going to the toilet. “I have to look after him the entire 24 hours,” she said.
“We wrote to several leaders, including Phulpur MP Keshav Prasad Maurya (now Uttar Pradesh’s deputy chief minister) and MLA Saeed Ahmad for assistance but to no avail,” Shanti Devi lamented.
Dr Girish Pandey, who runs an NGO in the area, is providing assistance to Rupesh.
Pandey said a certificate of progeria was issued to Rupesh by the chief minister’s office. He said he has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for assistance but has not received any response yet.