U.S. News


Doctors Alter Plan For Preteen's Weight Loss Surgery

12-year-old Alexis Shapiro suffers from a condition causing constant hunger. Her mother fears the child will lose her life without emergency surgery.
Posted at 2:06 PM, Mar 22, 2014

12-year-old Alexis Shaprio from Cibolo, Texas, suffers from a disorder that leaves her in a constant state of hunger. She was scheduled to undergo gastric bypass surgery March 21, but doctors were forced to alter course when the surgery didn't go as planned. 

Cincinnati surgeons live-tweeted the surgery, but just 40 minutes into it, the hospital wrote "Alexis Shapiro's liver is larger than surgical team anticipated, making necessary visualization difficult." (Via Twitter / @CincyChildrens)

Instead, People says doctors performed a sleeve gastrectomy. This reduced the size of Alexis' stomach by about 25 percent, which will help her lose weight.

KETK notes that Alexis wasn't always morbidly overweight.

"This was Alexis Shapiro before a brain surgery two years ago to remove a tumor. And this is her now."

ABC says the tumor caused damage to Alexis' pituitary gland and part of her hypothalamus. These areas regulate weight and appetite.

"She started gaining weight at an alarming rate: 2 pounds a week. ... In two and a half years, she gained 89 pounds." (Via KRGV)

WBBH reports Alexis' parents consulted doctors, who all said a gastric bypass surgery would be the only thing that could help their daughter. But their health insurance provider refused to pay for the procedure, saying Alexis was too young.

So Alexis's mom, Jenny, launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the necessary $50,000 for the surgery. More than $84,000 was donated by people across the country. 

NBC says the Shapiros' health care provider ended up reversing its decision in January, and Alexis was immediately scheduled for surgery. 

In a blog post published on Cincinnati Children's Hospital's website, Jenny wrote that her family hoped the surgery would give Alexis "a fighting chance."

"... we are confident that it is worth the risk. Everything we've tried has failed to control her weight. If we don't do anything, her weight will continue to increase and eventually my child will lose her life to the weight."

After the surgery, the hospital tweeted Alexis was moved to the pediatric ICU for recovery. Doctors are waiting to see how Alexis responds to the the sleeve gastrocemy before making any decisions regarding a full gastric bypass surgery.