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Updated 02 January 2014

Donors to pay for obese girl's surgery

Nearly 1 500 donors have pledged more than R552 770 to help pay for surgery for a 12-year-old Texas girl diagnosed as morbidly obese due to a brain disease that is causing her to gain about 1 kg a week.

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Through crowd sourcing, nearly 1 500 donors have pledged more than R552 774  to help pay for surgery for a 12-year-old Texas girl diagnosed as morbidly obese due to a brain disease that is causing her to gain about 1 kg a week.

Alexis Shapiro was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour called a craniopharyngioma in 2011. It caused damage to her pituitary gland, which helps regulate weight. In her mother, Jennifer Shapiro's words on the fundraising website GoFundMe, "She has no function of her hypothalamus, or pituitary gland. This has left her with several life threatening conditions. 

Most we control with replacement hormones and medication. However, the one thing we have not been able to control is something called hypothalamic obesity. it is a beast and we have tried so hard to control it. but, it has been found that no amount of diet or exercise will stop this obesity."

She has gained about  63.5 kg (140 pounds) in less than two years because of the problem, her mother said.

Her extreme excess of body fat is clinically defined as morbid obesity. "It has been heartbreaking for her and for us. She cannot do the things she used to love." 


Read:  Morbid obesity – is surgery the only solution?

Surgery may indeed be the only solution for Alexis

The mother said she is seeking about R521 000 for life-saving surgery to reduce the size of her daughter's stomach because the family's insurance company will not pay for the procedure unless the patient is at least 18 or has achieved full bone growth.

Read: A safer surgery for morbidly obese patients

Funding appears to be in place

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

Read more 

Image: Alexis Shapira, from GoFundMe

 
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