Home | National | Alexis Shapiro, 12, needs gastric bypass surgery to keep her from death

Alexis Shapiro, 12, needs gastric bypass surgery to keep her from death

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  • Alexis Shapiro, 12,  feels like she is constantly starving due to the fact that her surgery to remove a benign tumor caused damage to her hypothalamus, instigating the development of hypothalamic obesity
  • She is home-schooled, has no friends, and has told doctors 'she wants to die'
  • Her mother Jenny Shapiro is afraid her daughter will 'eat herself to death'
  • Gastric bypass surgery will help her lose weight and may even help her brain from believing it is starving
  • She is on a restricted diet of between 900-1,400 calories a day and has a strict exercise regimen

By Alexandra Klausner

PUBLISHED: 12:55 EST, 28 December 2013 | UPDATED: 13:56 EST, 28 December 2013

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One 12-year-old girl from Texas had brain tumor surgery that caused her to become obese and she may die if she doesn't undergo an immediate medical procedure.

Gastric bypass surgery is the only procedure that can help her condition but the U.S. military, her family's insurance provider, will not pay for the $50,000 operation because 'she's too young.'

Alexis Shapiro is 4 foot 7 and weighs almost 200 pounds. Alexis feels like she is constantly starving due to the fact that her surgery to remove a benign tumor caused damage to her hypothalamus, instigating the development of hypothalamic obesity.

Alexis Shapiro is obese but feels like she's starving and needs gastric bypass surgery in order to survive

Alexis Shapiro is obese but feels like she's starving and needs gastric bypass surgery in order to survive

Alexis is on a restricted diet of 900 to 1,400 calories per day but despite controlling her food intake, she keep's gaining weight.

'Our reviewers have denied your request for Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass,' reads the rejection notice sent from TRICARE earlier this month.

Alexis' parents and doctors are asking that TRICARE reconsider their decision in order to save Alexis' life.

NBC news reports that Alexis is gaining two pounds per week. Alexis has been hospitalized for a kidney infection and she has developed type 2 diabetes and requires nightly insulin injections.

Alexis' pediatric obesity doctor, Dr. Thomas H. Inge of Cincinnati, believes that surgery is the only way to keep Alexis from gaining more weight which could top 400 pounds.

Gastric bypass surgery will do more that destroy the weight, it can also tell her brain that she is not starving and she may be able to curb her painful appetite.

After her surgery, Alex's parents had to take extreme measures to keep their daughter from eating herself to death.

'She’s always hungry,' her father Ian Shapiro said. 'In the past, we’ve had to padlock the cupboard.'

Two years ago after developing Craniopharyngioma , a rare type of brain tumor that grows next to the pituitary gland, Alexis had surgery to have it removed.

This is Alexis before she had brain surgery that caused her to develop hypothalamic obesity after doing damage to her hypothalamus

This is Alexis before she had brain surgery that caused her to develop hypothalamic obesity after doing damage to her hypothalamus

More than half of children with this specific form of tumor experience similar post-operative symptoms to Alexis.

'I think it is disappointing that they cannot see the facts of this case,' said Inge, of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

'There is no evidence that doing nothing would be in this child’s best interests,' he continued.

According to a spokesperson for TRICARE said that gastric bypass and weight loss services are only covered of the patient is or over and has full bone growth.

'In general, our Managed Care Support Contractors are required to approve or deny coverage based on TRICARE policy,' spokesman Austin Camacho said in an email to NBC News. '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,' said the insurance company.

Alexis may be a child, but she wears a women's size 1x or 2x and she goes up a size every month. When asked by psycologists about how she is coping with her condition, she has told them she 'wants to die.'

If Alexis gets the surgery she may be able to lead a normal life again and keep off the weight

If Alexis gets the surgery she may be able to lead a normal life again and keep off the weight

'She doesn’t have any friends or anything like that,'  her mother Jenny Shapiro said. 'It’s so sad, because she remembers what it was like before.'

Alexis is in constant pain and has begun homeschooling because she is afraid of going out in public.

Doctor's believe that if Alexis has Bypass surgery, she may have a chance of leading a normal life.

Kelsie Blackwell of Indianapolis, Indiana,21, had a successful bypass surgery when she was 18 that helped her lose 100 pounds after being diagnosed with hypothalamic obesity.

Unlike Alexis, Blackwell's surgery was covered by insurance.

Alexis' parents have begun to investigate other ways to raise money for their daughter's surgery. They created a Gofundme.com account to raise enough money to cover her daughter's lifelong health costs.

'These kids will literally eat themselves to death,' Jenny Shapiro said.

'That’s what I’m scared of.'

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