Surgery for girl 'eating herself to death'

Last updated 10:48 31/12/2013
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BEFORE AND AFTER: Alexis Shapiro has gained an enormous amount of weight in two years.

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A 12-year-old Texas girl diagnosed as morbidly obese due to a brain disease that is causing her to gain about 1 kilogram a week is to get life-saving surgery thanks donations from strangers.

Alexis Shapiro suffered damage to her pituitary gland, which helps regulate weight, as a result of surgery for a brain tumour. She has gained about 63.5kg in less than two years because of the problem, her mother said.
Her parents have taken extreme measures to keep her from eating herself to death.

"She's always hungry," her father Ian Shapiro told the Daily Mail. "In the past, we've had to padlock the cupboard."

"It has been heartbreaking for her and for us. She cannot do the things she used to love," Jennifer Shapiro, her mother, said on the fundraising site GoFundMe.

Shapiro was seeking about US$50,000 for life-saving surgery to reduce the size of her daughter's stomach because the family's insurance company would not pay for the procedure unless the patient was at least 18 or had achieved full bone growth.

The goal was reached this week, she said in a post on the site.

"I'm not sure how to thank everyone. But, our family is so surprised and overwhelmingly grateful. Thank you so so much!"

As well as limiting the amount of food she can eat, Gastric bypass surgery could also tell Alexis' brain that she is not starving.

Dr Thomas Inge, a specialist in paediatric obesity at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, told NBC News that Alexis could receive the surgery at the hospital where he works within six weeks now that the funding was in place.

"Alexis will be seen this week in Cincinnati, and the preparations for surgery will be made at that time," Inge told Reuters by email.

- Agencies

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