Caden Benjamin, 11, loses battle against genetic disorder

Caden Benjamin, 11, will be remembered for his will to live despite fighting an incurable condition called Prader-Willi syndrome. He died on November 15 and was buried at the weekend. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – Eleven-year-old Caden Benjamin from Mpumalanga, who stole the hearts of many South Africans, will never get to fulfil his dreams of driving a fast car after he lost his battle with Prader-Willi syndrome.

He died at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on November 15.

Caden was buried on Saturday in his home town of Standerton, with more than 100 people present.

Prader-Willi syndrome is a fatal and incurable genetic disorder that causes obesity. Caden faced constant hunger he was never able to satisfy as his brain did not receive the signal that he was full, forcing him to eat anything he was able to find.

His story touched many South Africans when a fund-raising campaign was launched to assist his family with medical fees earlier this year.

While he dreamed of having a normal childhood, his condition took centre stage in his short life, making it difficult for him to make friends and live a normal life. At the age of 10, he weighed 85kg.

Caden had difficulty breathing because of his obesity and was fitted with a tracheotomy pipe at the age of three. His condition affected his intellectual ability and caused behavioural problems. At 10, he still couldn’t read and was unable to attend school.

After she met him in February, Gila Sacks started a crowd-funding campaign for Caden, to assist his mother, Zola, to pay his hospital fees.

She said: “Caden, there are no words to describe your bravery. You allowed me this opportunity to help care for you. I was always there to support your mother emotionally. I am honoured for doing so. I am going to miss you so much, especially all the voice notes messages. You will never be forgotten and always in my heart.”

Sacks said Zola had dedicated her life to taking care of her son and had been unemployed for a while.

“Caden needed 24/7 care. He would have to be bathed daily, have suctioning six times day, four sessions at least per week of physiotherapy, given medication, fed, nebulised, put on the sleep apnoea machine, blood pressure taken, nappies changed, sugar tested just to name some.

“There was hardly any resting for his anxious mother trying to keep him alive and still having to stress over finances. She herself suffers from sleep deprivation and high blood pressure.”

Sacks has asked that people keep donating to the family to buy a tombstone and to help Zola get back on her feet while she is grieving.

“She has been through so much hardship, she needs all the help she can get, emotionally and financially.”

Donations can be made at or Sacks can be contacted on [email protected]

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