The first son of Wim and Godeva Vandeveer, Michael, was diagnosed with a disease that is so rare that the couple never worried that their second child might be born with the same disease. Their son has progeria, a rare genetic disease that causes a person to age prematurely. The doctors assured them that it was almost impossible to have another child with progeria. That’s why the family was so shocked when they found out that their second child, Amber, was also born with the same rare disease.
Michael is 20 years old, 4 feet 1 inch tall. Amber is 12 years old, 3 feet 7 inches tall. The brother and sister from Belgium are not like other children of their age, because progeria is a disease that causes cell malfunctions. That’s why they don’t have a lot of hair, they have a lot of bone problems and they remain very small.
They’re not very strong either. According to their father, «the impact on their lives is that they have to put a lot of extra energy into it. They undergo physical therapy every day.
But Michael and Amber do not allow their illness to prevent them from living a full life!
Like any other 20-year-old guy, Michael likes to play video games, drive a car and chat with his friends. He even goes karting with his friends once a month and loves the adrenaline he gets from racing a car on the track.
Amber also, like other young girls, loves to dance, play on her phone and spend time on social networks. And although there are two children with progeria in this family, it is a blessing that they share this special bond, because they both go through it together. «I would definitely say that we are the best support for each other. «We both know what it’s like better than anyone else,» Michael says. «If Amber ever has any questions, she can always come to me. It’s good that I can still be an older brother. Because if Amber didn’t have progeria, she would already be much bigger than me. » Brothers and sisters also help each other to have a positive outlook on their future.
People with progeria age 8-10 times faster than the average person. Their life expectancy is about 12 years. But that doesn’t stop Michael and Amber from hoping for their lives and making the most of the days they have. The oldest person with progeria lived to 26 years.
Michael says he wants to try to break this record and bring it to 30! The positive outlook and hopeful attitude of this family, especially Michael and Amber, is contagious. «Enjoy your life as much as possible. Life is too short, and you just have to make the most of it.»