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Girl, 18, Who Had Body Of 144-Yr-Old Due To "Benjamin Button Disease" Dies, Told Mom "You Have To Let Me Go"

Girl, 18, Who Had Body Of 144-Yr-Old Due To "Benjamin Button Disease" Dies, Told Mom "You Have To Let Me Go"

The teen was living with Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare premature ageing condition.

Ashanti Smith, from West Sussex, was only 18 years old she passed away from a rare premature aging condition. Known as Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, the condition saw her age 8 years for every one year of her life. As a result, the 18-year-old had the body equivalent of a 144-year-old. But according to mom Phoebe Louise Smith, the disease did not affect her daughter's "loud and beautiful" spirit. The teen was surrounded by loved ones at the time of her death. Her mother, father Shaine Wickens, 33, and a family friend, Kayleigh Cartwright, 25, were all able to be by her side. The condition gave her arthritis, and it gave her heart disease and heart failure. She passed away of heart failure and natural causes, her mom explained. The day she died started off just like any other. "She was walking around, having KFC, walking around the park - absolutely fine. Then it came on sudden and it was about half an hour," her mom said. One of the last things the resilient teen told her mom was "Mum, I love you. You've got to let me go".



 

 

According to The Daily Mail, Phoebe described her daughter as "brilliant and strong-willed" and her life was no different. "Ashanti's life was a joy. Even though progeria affected her mobility, it didn't affect anything else. She was a typical, stroppy 18-year-old and I loved everything about her. She was brilliant, she was gobby. She spoke her mind and everyone knew it," she beamed, adding the disease "didn't affect her heart, her willpower, or the way she felt about herself - she felt beautiful every day. I made sure of it every day. Everyone loved and adored that little girl. She touched their hearts so much with her willpower." The teen had recently celebrated her 18th birthday and was able to spend time with her girlfriends even drink her favorite cocktail, Sex on the Beach. She was determined to live her life to the fullest and not let her rare condition affect her. Phoebe pointed out that her daughter was just like any other teenager. Ashanti was proud to be gay and was also a huge fan of the K-Pop band, BTS.



 

 

The mom-of-four shared, "She was louder - louder than me - and I'm a very loud person. There are photos of her first getting ID'd. We all took her out to the pubs, me and all the girls. We took her to three pubs three weeks ago. She got tipsy and she loved it. Her favorite drink was Sex on the Beach. Her condition affected her mobility to walk far. She had a broken hip and it had to be set back in three times, then eventually it came out again and she just walked with a broken hip. That child, my little girl, wouldn't get in a buggy. She'd either be carried or she'd walk. You'd ask if she wanted a drink, she'd say 'I'll get it - what are you treating me different for?' She was very strong. It didn't affect her will. Obviously, it affected her mobility and she had heart disease."



 

 

Her friends started a JustGiving page to help crowdfund for the "biggest, brightest send-off ever." Phoebe shared, "The funeral's going to be gay and BTS [themed]. She's having four pure white horses, with feathers and gay flags and BTS signs. Her coffins going to have BTS all around it and on top it's going to be me and my four children in gay t-shirts. It's going to be a party. She's having a widescreen with videos playing and because she swore a lot, [there's] going to be a bleeper. Everyone who sees the video will laugh so hard. Ashanti was so proud to be gay. She was the proudest girl and she embraced the gay community. She loved it."