Girl with Rare Disease Cannot Stop Excessive Eating - My Bariatric Life

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • Alex Shapiro shown left at age 12 and right at age 11. Hypothalamic Obesity caused her massive weight gain. Photos courtesy of NBC News.

    If you were once obese but have managed to shed those many pounds, congratulations. I imagine you had some bad days along the way prior to your final success. Perhaps your self-esteem fell to rock bottom or perhaps you were your own worse critic.

    Perhaps you gorged on comfort foods and were consumed by guilt shortly afterwards. Perhaps you realized in full that your health was failing and felt panicked because you believed your situation was hopeless. But in the end you succeeded and, once again, congratulations.

    Perhaps you reached out for help and were turned away. The feeling must have been awful. Unfortunately, a 12-year-old Texas girl was made to suffer that feeling not so very long ago.

    Hypothalamic Obesity
    After the successful removal of a brain tumor, Alexis Shapiro was afflicted with a rare disorder that makes her gain remarkable amounts of weight, although her body believes it is starving. The condition is called hypothalamic obesity. 

    Alexis is four-foot-seven and weighs 198 pounds. She gains at least two pounds every week, has been recently hospitalized for a kidney infection, and has developed Type 2 diabetes. The family sought relief through Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery but was denied by their insurance company because the procedure is only covered if a person is 18 years old or has achieved full bone growth. 

    Meanwhile, Alexis has no friends and is home-schooled because her condition causes constant pain and because school mates constantly comment about her.

    Reconsideration and Human Kindness
    The United States military health officials who had denied Alexis a gastric bypass had begun to reconsider. A spokesman for the insurance company said the request was denied because it stated the problem as morbid obesity and made no mention of a rare disease.
    While the insurance company was deciding if they would approve gastric bypass surgery to a 12-year-old girl who is morbidly obese and beginning to experience a decline in health, the public at large came to a more immediate decision. 

    Supporters of Alexis have raised about $78,000 from an online medical fundraising account to finance the surgery she needs. That is $28,000 more than the surgery itself will cost. 

    Doctors believe that weight loss surgery will halt the weight gain that Alexis endures and help her to lose 20 to 30 percent of her body mass.

    A Reversed Decision
    TRICARE, the military insurer who initially denied Alexis Shapiro gastric bypass surgery had a change of heart. The insurer will now approve the procedure. She could be scheduled for surgery in as little as eight weeks.

    The family has expressed their gratitude to all parties, especially those well-wishers who collectively donated the $78,000. The family has said they will use part of the money to address travel and lodging expenses for the trip to Ohio where the surgery will be performed. Any money left will go toward children afflicted with brain tumors and other disorders. 

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Published On: January 06, 2014