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by Paula Bernstein
January 14, 2014 9:34 AM
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Sam Berns, 17, Whose Life With Progeria Was the Subject of 'Life According to Sam,' Has Died

"Life According to Sam" Sundance

Sam Berns, the 17-year-old Massachusetts high school student whose life with the rare illness progeria was the subject of the documentary "Life According to Sam," died on Friday, The New York Times reports.

Progeria is an extremely rare genetic disorder which results in rapid premature aging. On average, patients typically live until the age of 13. The film depicted Berns' experience with the disease and his parents efforts to find a cure.

Directed by Academy Award winners Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, "Life According to Sam" played at festivals, including Sundance, and was broadcast on HBO in October. It is one of the 15 feature documentaries which have been shortlisted for an Academy Award.

"No matter what I choose to become, I believe that I can change the world," he said in his TEDx talk last year. "And as I’m striving to change the world, I will be happy."

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