Having to eat every fifteen minutes just to stay alive cannot be an easy task, but a lifelong struggle that Lizzie Valesquez deals with on a daily basis due to her undiagnosed disorder. But, like any other physical condition needing attention, Velasquez must attend to her needs on an on-going basis and does so by consuming up to sixty meals per day each containing between 5,000 and 8,000 calories daily.
Velasquez, who stands at 5'2" stated, "I weigh myself regularly and if I gain even one pound I get really excited. I eat every 15-20 minutes to keep my energy levels up. I eat small portions of crisps, sweets, chocolate, pizza, chicken, cake, doughnuts, ice cream, noodles and pop tarts all day long, so I get pretty upset when people accuse me of being anorexic" Valesquez wears size triple zero clothes. She cannot seem to escape the looks, the questions and the confusion over her rare disorder.
Born four weeks prematurely weighing just 2lb 10oz., doctors found there was minimal amniotic fluid protecting Valesquez in the womb. Her mother shared that her daughter was not even expected to survive.
Miss Velasquez has fascinated doctors all over the world and she is currently a part of a genetic study run by Professor Abhimanyu Garg, MD, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. It is believed that Velasquez may have a form of Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome (NPS) which causes accelerated aging, fat loss from the face and body, and tissue degeneration. Garg stated, "I am aware of a small number of people that have similar conditions to Lizzie but each case is slightly different. We cannot predict what will happen to Lizzie in the future as the medical community are yet to document older people with NPS. However Lizzie is lucky to have healthy teeth, organs and bones so the outlook is good. We will continue to study her case and learn from her."
Miss Velasquez has taken part in writing a book about her life, her rare genetic condition and her experiences in dealing with the disorder and how it affects her and her daily living. The book is slated to be released in September.