At the age of 10, Alexis Shapiro developed a craniopharyngioma. A craniopharyngioma is a rare benign brain tumor that affects about 1 in every million child a year. Luckily Alexis was able to undergo surgery to remove the tumor. However, she developed hypothalamic obesity. Hypothalamic obesity is a rare disease that causes hypothalamus damage.The hypothalamus controls appetite and metabolism. As a result of the condition, Alexis's body thinks it's starving despite her constant eating and weight gain. More than half the children who have similar tumors develop this disease.
Alexis at only 12 years old, and 4 feet 7 inches, weighs 198 pounds. Her doctor fears that if she doesn't receive surgery soon, she could get up to as high as 400 pounds. Alexis's family wants her to undergo a gastric bypass operation to potentially save her life.
Since the extreme weight gain, Alexis has developed other health issues, like kidney infections and type-2 diabetes. Despite Alexis's serious health problems, her health insurance company has denied the family's request for her gastric bypass surgery.The insurance company that supplies health care for the family, TRICARE's spokesperson Austin Camacho said,in an email to NBC News, that “in general, our Managed Care Support Contractors are required to approve or deny coverage based on TRICARE policy. We have an appeals process in place specifically designed to give our medical professionals the opportunity to examine the details of any special cases when coverage is denied.”
The main reason Alexis was denied surgery because TRICARE's policy only allows people over 18, or those with full bone growth, gastric bypass surgery. Dr. Thomas H. Inge, a Cincinnati expert on Alexis's case believes that the health insurance company should make an exception, because this surgery could be the only thing to stop Alexis's unhealthy eating habits. Alexis's parents have tried everything from restricting her diet to locking up food at night to stop her weight gain,but nothing works.
To try to get the surgery without the insurance's help, Alexis's mother, Jennifer Shapiro, started a GoFundMe campaign. She hoped to raise the $50,000 needed for the gastric bypass operation. Alexis's GoFundMe page currently has raised more than it's goal and growing. This is great news for the Shapiro family. Now, hopefully Alexis can receive the life saving surgery she needs.
Image, Via GoFundMe