Did You Know | Health

Teen Forced To Starve For Months Because Doctors Wouldn't Listen

ABC11

When you're a teenager, your body is going through a lot. Puberty is still persisting on and all the while you've got a bunch of social changes to deal with. It's not an easy time, but it gets a whole lot more difficult when you have to deal with a mystery illness.

LewLew Whayne first started experiencing symptoms last December after a particularly terrible stomach virus. Thinking it was just a normal bug, the family didn't really think much of it, but as time went on and the nausea persisted, her family became concerned.

No matter what Whayne tried to eat or drink, nothing would stay down. A sip of water would come right back up, even though she no longer felt nauseated.

Her mother Laura revealed that she'd throw up up to 80 times a day, causing her to miss en entire semester of school and had to have a feeding tube installed.

Doctors had a hard time diagnosing the issue, and didn't believe that it was a physical issue.

"They blamed everything on my brain."

But her mom wouldn't let the doctors continue to ignore her daughter's pain. She began to frantically research because the doctors didn't seem to care, until she came across the description of an illness that almost seemed to fit.

Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome (SMAS) seemed like the closest fit, as it causes a part of the small intestine called the duodenum to close off, making it impossible for food or liquid to pass through.

The way doctors test for SMAS is by getting the patient to try eating or drinking lying down, but Whayne was able to pass the tests by drinking a smoothie while laying down, therefore ruling out the condition.

Laura explained how the doctors wouldn't test her sitting up, even though that's when her issues were happening, but she was persistent and found a doctor who agreed to perform the test on her while lying down and standing up.

As soon as they tested her standing up, they witnessed the experience she had suffered hundreds of times, and saw that it was in fact SMAS.

"And sure enough, there it was ... her duodenum shut standing up and lying down," Laura said. "But opened up enough lying down to let smoothies go through.. therefore, the diagnosis that changed our lives."

Dr. John Petty was the only doctor who took the time to do the test in the way that Laura suggested, and was able to find the cause of her ten-month-long struggle.

He admitted that the presentation of the disease was highly unusual, but he was able to do the operation and then came time to wait and see if it would work.

"Everybody was kind of had the hair standing up on the back of their neck, wondering how is this going to go but it was pretty quick. They could tell there was a big change," Petty explained.

For the first time in ten months, Whayne was able to eat food sitting up, all thanks to her mother refusing to take no for an answer.

"I just know that they were wrong about LewLew and she could have gotten her life back earlier if they had known how to test this standing up," her mother said, relieved that her daughter was finally able to live a normal life.

Petty was happy to have helped, and even more happy to have actually listened to the concerned mother. "That kind of care of a mother toward a daughter, it's a lesson that's bigger than the operating room. Something for all of us that have children and live in families...we can relate to that."

LewLew Wayne SMAS
LewLew Whayne enjoying her first solid food in 10 monthsABC11

Whayne's presentation of SMAS was so unusual that Petty is hoping to publish it in medical journals so that other doctors will be more cautious and considerate about their patients.

Anyone with a child knows how scary it is when they are sick, but it must be even more terrifying when your child is hurting and the doctors are saying that nothing is wrong.

Source - ABC11

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