Campaigner of rare premature aging condition dies at 17

Britain's Oldest Teen Hayley Okines Dies

LONDON (AP) - A campaigner who raised awareness of the rare genetic condition progeria, which causes those affected to age about eight times faster than average, has died at age 17.

The U.S.-based Progeria Research Foundation said Hayley Okines, from East Sussex in England, died Thursday at her home. It didn't provide more details.

The group's executive director Audrey Gordon praised Okines for her participation in drug trials and research that helped make progress toward treatment for the condition. Hundreds of tributes also poured into the group's website celebrating Okines' life.

Okines published her autobiography, "Old Before My Time," at 14, detailing her unusual life.

The Progeria Research Foundation says the condition affects about 1 in 4 million to 8 million newborns. Those affected die at an average age of 14.

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Campaigner of rare premature aging condition dies at 17
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Harry Crowther, 12, and Hayley Okines, 13, play their favourite game, Super Mario Kart, on the Nintendo Wii at the Okines home in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Harry Crowther, 12, and Hayley Okines, 13, tuck into candy floss at the Bexhill Carnival Fun Fair in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Hayley Okines, 13, enjoys a hot dog at the Bexhill Carnival Fun Fair in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Hayley Okines, 13, watches the town carnival parade pass the end of the road in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Harry Crowther, 12, and Hayley Okines, 13, play their favourite game, Super Mario Kart, on the Nintendo Wii at the Okines home in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Harry Crowther, 12, and Hayley Okines, 13, play their favourite game, Super Mario Kart, on the Nintendo Wii at the Okines home in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Louis Okines, 8, Harry Crowther, 12, and Hayley Okines, 13, enjoy a twister ride at the Bexhill Carnival Fun Fair in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Hayley Okines, 13, play her favourite game, Super Mario Kart, on the Nintendo Wii at the her home in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE (L) Kerry Okines, Harry Crowther, 12, Hayley Okines, 13, and Sharron Crowther (R) photographed in the Okines family garden in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Hayley Okines, 13, enjoys a hot dog at the Bexhill Carnival Fun Fair in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
BEXHILL-ON-SEA, UNITED KINGDOM - UNDATED: EXCLUSIVE Harry Crowther, 12, and Hayley Okines, 13, tuck into candy floss at the Bexhill Carnival Fun Fair in Bexhill-On-Sea, England. Giggling on a tea cup ride and sharing candy floss, best friends Hayley Okines and Harry Crowther are clearly delighted to see each other. As two of just 78 children in the world suffering from progeria - a disease that causes rapid aging - 12-year-olds Hayley and Harry share a unique bond. The pair met just one year ago - and have struck up an amazing friendship since. These heartwarming photos show the pair having a day out at the carnival - one of their rare chances to meet as they live at opposite sides of the country. Harry, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, is the only person in the world with his form of progeria - Atypical Progeria Syndrome. He ages five times faster than other children and already suffers from crippling joint pain. Hayley, from Bexhill, East Sussex, suffers from the more severe Hutchinson Gilford Progeria Syndrome, meaning she ages at ten times the normal rate. (Photo by Neil Turner / Barcroft Media / Getty Images)
Singer Billie Piper with Hayley Okines at the annual Woman's Own Children of Courage Awards at Westminster Abbey. * Britain's bravest youngsters were honoured for their courage at the ceremony, attended by the Prince of Wales and celebrity guests such as TV presenter Cat Deeley and ex-Take That singer Mark Owen. Ten children singled out for their remarkable actions and courageous stance on life received the awards at the event.
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