NBC News - A week after long-awaited obesity
surgery, a Texas girl with a rare metabolic problem that left her
starving but gaining weight is out of the hospital and already meeting
critical health milestones, doctors said.
Shapiro, 12, no longer needs insulin or other medication to control
type 2 diabetes and she's feeling signs of fullness when she eats,
rather than the insatiable hunger that drove her to top 200 pounds on
her 4-foot-7 frame.
Both are the immediate
results of sleeve gastrectomy weight-loss surgery, a procedure aimed at
halting her massive weight gain and improving life-threatening health
problems, said Dr. Thomas Inge, the pediatric obesity expert at
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center who has led her care.
was no sign of her diabetes 24 hours after the surgery," Inge said. "My
guess is she will not need insulin or anything else at this point."
was discharged from Cincinnati Children's late Friday, a week after the
March 21 surgery. The Cibolo, Texas, girl drew international attention
earlier this year after NBC News first reported that
insurers were refusing to pay for doctor-recommended weight-loss
surgery to treat hypothalamic obesity, a rare condition that developed
after Alexis had brain surgery two years ago.
She'll remain in Cincinnati under
close monitoring for about another week with her parents, Jenny and Ian
Shapiro, who have two other children staying with family back home.
"It's really exciting stuff," said Jenny Shapiro. "She's in much better spirits now being here at the hotel."
sleeve gastrectomy surgery, which removed about 80 percent of Alexis'
stomach, reversed the diabetes by immediately affecting glucose
metabolism, or the process of converting sugar into energy for cells to
use. The procedure likely boosts production of anti-diabetic hormones
from the lower portion of the gut and changes the processing of
nutrients that act as metabolic signals.
the same time, the surgery also appears to have affected Alexis'
appetite, kicking in key signals that indicate satiety, or a feeling of
fullness. Her diet has been limited to protein drinks and soft foods
like special protein-enhanced puddings and yogurt, typically 4 to 5
teaspoons at a time, Inge said. After 3 teaspoons, Alexis is saying
she's getting full.
"Some part of the brain is still switched on and is listening to these cues," Inge said.
is likely also losing weight, although doctors won't be able to judge
how much for about another week, when her fluids rebalance after
surgery. Inge anticipated that Alexis could stop gaining weight and lose
perhaps 20 percent of her body mass, or about 40 pounds, in the early
months after surgery, even as she gets taller.
originally had planned to perform a different weight-loss operation,
gastric bypass surgery, but discovered during surgery that her liver was
much larger than expected, which forced a change in plans.
all good news for the child who was a normal 9-year-old before she
developed a rare benign brain tumor. Surgery successfully removed the
tumor, but it sent her metabolism haywire, Inge said.
Her story prompted interest from media outlets around the world and prompted strangers to donate more than $85,000 for her care. Inge
said he's very pleased at Alexis' progress — and at the attention she's
generated for other people with rare, medically induced obesity.
"This one particular
patient is doing well, but her message is being heard all over the
globe," Inge told NBC News. "Maybe it will get more medical attention
now because of this one girl with her very private battle that became a