Alexis Shapiro, a 12-year-old Texas girl who has experienced rapid weight gain due to hypothalamic obesity, remains in the pediatric ICU at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center after surgeons changed plans midway through gastric bypass surgery Friday due to her enlarged liver.
Alexis, of Cibolo, Texas, who is 4-foot-7 and weighs 203 pounds, suffers from a rare condition called hypothalamic obesity related to brain surgery she underwent previously. The medical procedure caused her to pack on over 140 pounds in two years, according to the Daily Mail.
Around 11 a.m. Friday, the Cincinnati hospital’s staff live-tweeted on Twitter that the surgeons could not move forward with the gastric bypass because it turns out Alexis’ liver is bigger than they had anticipated. Operation was no longer the girl’s safest option.
The team of doctors decided to go on with what they called a “staged approach,” and perform a sleeve gastrectomy, which reduces the stomach to 25 percent of its original size.
According to the hospital’s Twitter page:
Sleeve gastrectomy still expected to help Alexis lose weight, which will also reduce liver size #HyObesity
— Cincinnati Childrens (@CincyChildrens) March 21, 2014
“We were very pleased with the outcome of the operation,” Dr. Thomas Inge said at a press conference. “So it was not disappointing at all.”
Dr. Inge said that it has not been decided whether or not the gastric bypass surgery will move forward, it all depends on Alexis’ progress.
He adds that while sleeve gastrectomy is an effective and popular weight-loss option, the 12-year-old may not be able to lose as much weight with it as with a bypass.
The weight-loss surgery to remove part of the vagus nerve that controls appetite was also cancelled, the New York Daily News reported.
“I think she will have a new normal,” Dr. Inge said about Alexis’ future.
Alexis is said to be doing well and recovering in the ICU, where physicians are monitoring her fluid levels and blood sugars. She will stay there all weekend, possibly until the end of next week because of medical problems, like Type 2 diabetes and pulmonary disease.
She is expected to stay on a ventilator overnight. Doctors will discuss tomorrow whether or not to remove her breathing tube.
Dr. Inge said Alexis will be able to go home to Texas with her parents in about two weeks.
According to the Daily Mail, after a military health insurance, TRICARE, rejected the family’s initial request for coverage due to lack of information about Alexis’ condition, her family was afraid appealing would be a longer process than she had.
“These kids will literally eat themselves to death,” Jenny Shapiro said. “That’s what I’m scared of.”
Alexis, who is now being home-schooled with no friends, has withdrawn into her shell because of her condition. However, the overwhelming amount of support and funds on the “Hope for Alexis” GoFundMe page has given Alexis hope.
“I hope this Friday will be the beginning of the end of all of her pain and insecurities,” according to a blog post by Jenny Shapiro. “I hope she won’t have to endure another day feeling like she is starving. I hope she will be able to think about fun things, not just when she will get to eat next.”