Ontlametse Phalatse‚ who became famous for her battle with a rare disease‚ has passed away.
The 18-year-old died on Tuesday night at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa‚ outside Pretoria‚ eNCA reported.
Phalatse was one of two South African girls living with Progeria‚ a rare genetic condition that causes rapid ageing.
She described herself as “the first lady” after she became the first black child diagnosed with Progeria.
Her death comes shortly after she met President Jacob Zuma at his official residence to mark her birthday‚ which was on March 25.
Phalatse had requested the meeting‚ where Zuma presented the teen with a bouquet of flowers and a birthday cake.
The presidency said at the time that the Jacob G Zuma Foundation would work with the Ontlametse Phalatse Trust to grant her other wishes‚ which included a home‚ transport and improved medical care.
She was regarded as an inspiring figure and a miracle child after outliving doctors’ predictions by four years.
Zuma said on Wednesday he was saddened by Phalatse’s passing.
Zuma said he had Phalatse and her mother‚ Bellone‚ to join him at his 75th birthday celebrations.
“Our lives were most touched by meeting Ontlametse last month. She was very special indeed. I was impressed by her sharp intellect‚ warm personality‚ brilliant ideas and her determination to use her condition to motivate others that they can achieve their goals regardless of any challenges‚” Zuma said in a statement.
“A brave young fighter has fallen. May her spirit inspire all others living with disabilities or facing any difficulty‚ to soldier on as she did and live life to the fullest. We are really proud of her. We wish to convey our utmost condolences to her mother‚ her whole family and the Ontlametse Phalatse Trust for this sad loss. May her soul rest in eternal peace.
“The President remains committed to fulfilling his undertaking to help the family with a house according to Ontlametse’s wishes.”
Phalatse’s family is expected to release a statement later on Wednesday morning.