Extraordinary People

2013 - Help! I'm 16 But Look 60

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When she was a young girl, Tracey was diagnosed with lipodystrophy, a condition that makes her look much older than she really is. It can also have potentially serious side effects, including diabetes and blocked arteries - increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cirrhosis of the liver. Her daughter Zara inherited the same condition.

Tracey, Zara and her 17-year-old sister Chloe (who does not have the condition) all travel to Texas. Zara wants cosmetic surgery advice from internationally acclaimed surgeon Dr Robert Ersek in Austin, and Tracey hopes to get a diagnosis from specialist Dr Abhimanyu Garg at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Zara’s dream of having cosmetic surgery comes true when Dr Ersek agrees to perform a facelift on his youngest ever patient. However, the news about their medical condition is far from clear-cut. Dr Garg informs them that they do not in fact have lipodystrophy, but an even rarer genetic condition called cutis laxa.

This means that Tracey and Zara will not suffer the serious side effects of lipodystrophy, but cutis laxa is incurable and has serious medical implications of its own...

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Comments (18)

  • Hannah

    3 months ago

    Hannah

    i think they are all extremey brave letting the rest of the world know their story. They have my deepest respects. I hope Zara keeps her newly found confidence. GoodLuck :D

  • sue oconnell

    3 months ago

    sue oconnell

    OMG my heart goes out to all the family. The mother is caring and it shows how close they all are. I have a daughter aged 22, if she were affected by this condition it would devastate me. Good luck and the happiness they deserve to all of them.

  • Emma

    8 months ago

    Emma

    I think Zara looks brilliant! I think the whole family are so brave letting the world into their lives to see what they go through. To have such a strong family unit is a blessing in itself. Good luck to them and hope they have happy and prosperous lives :D

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  • Jo

    10 months ago

    Jo

    What a marvellous job the surgeon performed. I hope Zara manages to achieve her dreams.

  • Kim

    10 months ago

    Kim

    What a lovely family! It's obvious that you are all so close, loving and supportive. What you have to suffer medically and physically would make many families fall apart and sink into despair but your relationship is a joy to behold. Good luck to all of you!

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  • Christine

    10 months ago

    Christine

    To Lorna - As A Nurse I stand by My Original Comments - I have Nursed Terminally Ill Patients who "Buried Their Heads in The Sand" & carried on breeding & so Diseases & Faulty Genes carry on getting passed through the generations - So sad 2 see The Babies & wondering if "They" have Inherited "The Genes" :(

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  • Lorna

    10 months ago

    Lorna

    Christine..responding to my message of amazing mother..she did her best with the limited information given to her. The mother hadn't infant been given the right diagnosis so how was she to know of passing the gene on to her (as you put it) 7 children! The only reason now that there has been hope is because channel 5 has paid for the surgery and enabled the family to be put in touch with America! In my opinion I have respect for the mother doing her best...she has only just understood what their conditions are!!! If you want to push blame then I say the the HHS should of least gave some correct prognosis at a much earlier stage like when the mother was young! ALS lets not forget the children here they are amazing to let the camera's in their personal space to allow you and I to try and understand at RAISE awareness that a person SHOULDN'T be judged on the way they look! Society can be so cruel! Zara and family I wish you all the success in the future x

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  • Steve

    10 months ago

    Steve

    id love to meet her and give her flowers.Her heart is full of love her suffering make me cry, what a twit I am what a lovely girl you ar x

  • mairiwelch

    10 months ago

    mairiwelch

    Oh my god shes beautiful

  • Lorna

    10 months ago

    Lorna

    What an amazing mother who has cared for her children! She is so supportive and even though ageing she's has made her daughter believe in her inner self! I hope the genetic testing provides treatment to prolong their life's! Zara your so strong and beautiful what ever!

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