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