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You may have heard of a few people in the world who have Progeria, a disease that causes a person to age extremely quickly. These people suffer many health problems that old age brings, as well as some unique ones due to the quickened aging process. But Brooke Greenberg was the opposite. She didn’t age at all. She stopped growing physically at age 6 and died at the age of 20. She maintained the body and cognitive function of the average 1-year-old.
Brooke was born 1 month early and weighed only 4 pounds. Even in the womb, she did not grow at a normal rate. She’d be healthy for a month, stop growing for a month, then catch up rather quickly, then grow normally again. At birth, she seemed normal except for a hip displacement that would need surgery. Her parents had no idea what was to come. They thought she would grow up happy and healthy. But after her first birthday, and continuing for the next five years, Brooke experienced perforated stomach ulcers, a seizure, and a stroke. Then she stopped growing. Her parents, Howard and Melanie Greenberg, immediately thought to consult several specialists, but no one could diagnose any endocrine or chromosomal abnormalities. Not even human growth hormones yielded any results. The doctors were stumped.
Regardless of all of these questions and stresses, the Greenberg family raised Brooke as if she were any other girl. They have 2 other daughters, one younger and one older than Brooke. She had a distinct personality and a stubbornness about her that was obvious, despite her inability to function like someone her own age. She was a source of joy and love in her family, and she will be dearly missed. Her family hopes that DNA taken from her skin can help doctors find cures to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and heart disease. At Brooke’s funeral, Rabbi Andrew Busch said, “While the outside world may have noticed Brooke’s physical stature and been puzzled by her unique development state, she brought joy and love to her family.” Rest in peace.