The story of Vietnamese woman Nguyen Thi Phuong has got to be a hoax or a seriously bizarre and unfortunate medical mystery. As the story goes, in 2008, the 23-year old aged about 50 years within days following a reaction to eating seafood.

Allergic to seafood for many years, Phuong claims she has had an acute reaction to the sea fare 3 years ago. She said, “I was really itchy all over my body. I had to scratch even while sleeping.” Phuong admits she treated the reaction with medicine from a local pharmacy because she and husband Tuyen could not afford hospital costs. After a month on the remedy, Phuong said, “I became less itchy but hives remained on my skin. Then I switched to traditional medicine and all the hives disappeared, together with my itching. However, my skin began to sag and fold.”

After another type of traditional medicine failed to treat her rapidly ageing skin, the Phuong’s gave up. The 70-year old-looking twenty-something said, “We considered that it was our destiny and I quit treatment in 2009. Now I always wear a face mask whenever I go out.”

The devastated woman explains that the skin on her face, chest and belly have folds like an old woman who has given birth several times although she’s never has a child. Continuing, Phuong says, “but the rapid-ageing syndrome hasn’t affected my menstrual cycle, hair, teeth, eyes and mind.”

Through this bizarre ordeal, Tuyen, 33-year old husband, says her elderly appearance doesn’t change the way he feels for her. “I married Phuong when she was a beautiful woman. I have followed her through her disease and have never been shocked at all. It’s not easy to talk about one’s own marital affairs. Just simply understand that I still love her very much.”

Sources say that Nguyen Thi Phuong no longer wears a mask in public and doctors are working overtime to treat this baffling condition. No formal diagnosis has been given but some doctors believe she may have a lipodystrophy, which is a rare syndrome that causes a layer of fatty tissue beneath the surface of the skin to disintegrate while the skin itself continues to grow rapidly.

For a tale this unusual, it wouldn’t be surprise to find that it’s result of a family cashing in on a hoax and the image of the aged woman was that of Phuong’s grandmamma. Perhaps that would be preferable to the alternative in which Phuong is literally a young woman trapped in an old woman’s body.


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