Alexis Shapiro Gets Surgery to Relieve Weight Gain From Rare Disease - My Bariatric Life

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  • Alexis Shapiro Gets Weight Loss Surgery
    Twelve-year-old Alexis has finally gotten the surgery she so desperately
    needs to combat the tremendous weight gain she has suffered since being
    diagnosed with the rare disease of hypothalamic obesity. If you have been
    following her story in the news or read about her in my post, “Girl With
    Rare Disease Cannot Stop Excessive Eating
    ” from January of this year,
    then you know that Alexis got the disease following surgery for a benign
    brain tumor.    


    Hypothalamic Obesity
    Hypothalamic obesity is a complication that can occur in survivors of
    brain tumors. Those who are diagnosed in childhood are especially

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    vulnerable. 

    The hypothalamus is located near the base of the brain and is about the
    size of a fingernail. The primary function of the hypothalamus is to
    release hormones that control the function of the pituitary gland. If
    this area is damaged it can cause a person to eat excessively and gain
    weight at an alarming rate. This particular form of weight gain cannot
    be controlled through diet and exercise.


    Alexis Shapiro did not receive national attention due to her battle with
    hypothalamic obesity though. She fell into the spotlight because her
    insurance carrier would not cover the treatment she needed to address
    the disease.


    The Answer Was No
    The Shapiro family health care provider, TRICARE and Humana Military,
    initially denied Alexis gastric bypass surgery because she was under
    eighteen years of age.  The decision was eventually reversed and the
    company agreed to pay for the surgery although the decision came after
    independent sources raised $82,000 to help the family pay for the
    procedure.

    Dr. Thomas Inge stated that if Alexis did not get the surgery she needs
    she would gain an estimated two pounds per week, her diabetes would
    worsen and she could end up weighing four hundred pounds. In addition,
    Alexis’ current body mass index is 47.2.


    It is predicted that Shapiro can initially lose up to five pounds per
    week following gastric bypass surgery.


    Moving Forward
    Alexis underwent surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center this
    month, but the planned gastric bypass procedure was abandoned because
    her liver was larger than expected.

    Doctors instead performed a sleeve gastrectomy that will shrink the
    stomach to about a quarter of the original size. Plans were also
    canceled to remove part of the vegas nerve due to the size of her liver.
    A vagotomy is effective in that it reduces the perception of hunger.

    Despite the change in plans, Alexis is currently experiencing an
    excellent early recovery
    . She showed no signs of her diabetes
    twenty-four hours after her surgery and doctors believe she will no
    longer need insulin. She also feels full after eating instead of the
    constant hunger she experienced prior to surgery. She is probably losing
    weight as well although doctors cannot make that determination for about
    a week.

     

    Living life well-fed,

    My Bariatric Life

     

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    References:
    Daily News
    Liberty Voice
    NBC News
    NBC News
    Pituitary Network Association

Published On: March 29, 2014