Boy with rare aging disorder dies at 13

Boy with rare aging disorder dies at 13 »Play Video
DARRINGTON, Wash. (AP) - A 13-year-old Washington boy who suffered from progeria, a disorder that causes accelerated aging, has died at home with his family.

Seth Cook had recently suffered a heart attack as a consequence of progeria, said his mother, Patti Cook. He died Monday.

"He will be missed by so many as there were so many lives he touched," she said.

Because of his ailment, Seth stood barely 3 feet tall and weighed less than an average toddler.

The boy, who lived in this Snohomish County community 75 miles northeast of Seattle, had been featured in newspaper accounts and on NBC's "Dateline," leading hundreds of people to write to him.

Many of those who wrote offered him new life experiences: he had flown in a stunt plane, was made an honorary sheriff's deputy, traveled to New York and visited ancient ruins in Mexico.

Many were charmed by his practical jokes and quick wit. But his courage, kindness and sense of humor also moved many who knew him only through stories.

Until this year, he was able to attend the annual reunions of children with progeria hosted by the Sunshine Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based wish-granting organization for seriously ill children.

The reunion, which was a highlight for him each year, is under way this week in Florida.

Most children with progeria, which is caused by a rare genetic mutation, don't outlive their teens.

An avid reader, Seth continued reading to kindergartners at Darrington Elementary until he had a stroke in August.

The stroke compromised his speech and cost him the strength on his right side, but he fought back and by this year was able to speak short phrases and feed himself his favorite foods, including chocolate, his mother said.

"He was full of life," said his dad, Kyle Cook. "He may have been short in stature, but he was a giant."

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The Sunshine Foundation at sunshinefoundation.org or Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center in Seattle at seattlechildrens.org