A morbidly obese 13 year-old Texas girl has undergone dramatic weight loss surgery and shed over 50 pounds in weight. Alexis Shapiro had ballooned from a weight of 50 pounds to over 200 pounds after the removal of a brain tumor had left her unable to stop eating.
During the brain surgery in 2011, a tumor was successfully removed, but the procedure damaged parts of her brain including her hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which are involved in how the body perceives and processes signals coming from the digestive system. The procedure left Alexis with a condition called hypothalamic obesity, which caused her to constantly feel hungry and resulted in a weight gain of over 140 pounds.
Her family decided to consider weight loss surgery after failing to help her control her ballooning weight with exercise and diet. The family had to raise the money for the complex sleeve gastrectomy surgery because their health insurance company refused to pay because of her age.
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Surgeons had originally intended to perform a complete gastric bypass but found that Alexis had an enlarged liver, and so decided to use a gastric sleeve, reducing the girl’s stomach to 25 percent of its original size. Seven months later and her mother, Jenny Shapiro, says the weight loss has helped Alexis regain her childhood.
“Alexis can enjoy things without thinking of food all the time. We can go to family, school and community functions now and not have to worry about the food or what people will say. I don’t know what the future holds but seeing the progress and the happy Alexis emerge out of this sleeve gastrectomy surgery has been the most amazing overwhelming feeling of joy.”
The weight loss has meant that Alexis has also been able to stop taking her diabetes medication and according to her mother is looking and feeling healthy for the first time in years.
The weight loss surgery was funded using a GoFundMe account, and raised over $80,000 from donors around the world. The family also post regular updates on their Facebook page called Hope and love for Alexis and recently wrote a post-surgery blog post on the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website.
In a recent statement posted on the Facebook page, Jenny Shapiro said that her daughter still struggles with her energy but the weight loss means she is now able to walk a half mile to school every weekday. And despite having some way to go to make a complete recovery, Jenny is clear that the weight loss surgery that the family fought so hard for, has given Alexis a future of hope.
“This is not the spot where we’ll finish our journey. But from here, we can see life so much better. Before, something enormous was blocking our view. We didn’t know how much longer we had with Alexis. Today, we see her future.”
[Photo: ABC News]