Hospital live tweets surgery of girl with rare medical condition to raise awareness

WTVM/CNN - A Texas girl is recovering from surgery for a rare medical condition that made her rapidly gain weight, and people around the world were able to follow the operation as it happened.

CNN's Scott Wegener reports that the girl's parents wanted the surgery tweeted live to draw attention to the rare illness.

Alexis Shapiro, 12, is having a rough go at life, and Cincinnati Children's is working to set it right.

In 2011, after the removal of a benign brain tumor, she started gaining weight at an alarming rate-two pounds a week.

She has a condition called hypothalamic obesity. The brain surgery damaged her pituitary gland, as well as the part of her brain that signals hunger. Because of that, the 51 lb. girl always felt like she had to eat.

Also damaged: her body's ability to produce adrenaline. As a result of that, she didn't have the energy to burn off extra calories. In two-and-a-half years, she gained 89 pounds.

She was taken into surgery at Cincinnati Children's on Friday, March 21, for gastric bypass, to limit the amount of food she could take in. In addition to the severe medical problems, her condition had Alexis and her family subject to ridicule for supposedly allowing her to become obese.

Dr. Thomas Inge with Cincinnati Children's Hospital says, "Because so few people are aware of this, it's a rare medical condition, but it looks for all the world like obesity we see from other causes."

To shed light on that fact, the entire procedure was tweeted live by Childrens' staff. As the surgeons got a better look inside, they modified their strategy. They removed about 80 percent of her stomach and installed a sleeve over the rest.

The doctors aren't sure whether Alexis will need to come back for the original procedure.

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