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Rare eating disorder makes girl constantly hungry

By Pang Li (

09:02, November 07, 2012

Xiang Shiyu (The Chongqing Economic Times)

Xiang Shiyu, a 15-year-old girl living in Yunyang County, Chongqing, suffers from a rare eating disorder that forces her to eat at least eight meals per day, and medical treatments are imposing an unbearable economic burden on her poor family, the Chongqing Economic Times reported.

With an insatiable appetite, Xiang Shiyu is able to consume 10 kg rice along with countless snacks every day, according to her aunt Zou Bangxiang who has taken care of the girl for many years.

"From the time she gets up in the morning to bedtime at night, she has to eat meals every two hours. In addition, she has to feed herself snacks between meals to relieve her hunger," Zou said. The amount of food that the girl eats is enough for 10 adults, she added.

When Shiyu was a newborn baby, she was abandoned by her biological parents. She was found and raised by Xiang Mingtang, a farmer who never married.

Xiang said that his adopted daughter's eating disorder appeared at age five, and developed to an alarming level this October. His daughter was forced to quit school two years ago for treatment. The girl, now 1.5 m tall and weighing 36 kg, spends each day eating and sleeping. "She starts to eat right after waking up and then goes back to sleep again. She can't be woken up," Xiang said.

Xiang has repeatedly taken his daughter to the doctor, but the cause of the disease has so far eluded diagnosis. Medical treatment costs have plunged the poor family into heavy debt. Xiang said that under current circumstances, he feels helpless and finds it very difficult to sustain his family in spite of receiving government aid.

Zeng Qingguo, a local doctor who has been treating Shiyu, said it appears that her stomach does not work properly. "The food that Xiang Shiyu eats can last ten minutes at most, and then is flushed out through her bowels," he said. Due to limited means of his and other local hospitals, they have failed to diagnose the disease, he added.

What's worse, the girl's family cannot afford continued treatment. The only way that she can combat the disease is through repeated medicine transfusions. But the alleviation only lasts for a couple of days, Zeng said. "When the pain becomes unbearable, she comes to me for simple treatment by transfusion," he said.

Fortunately, Yunyang's Bureau of Health has heard of Shiyu's condition. Xu Feng, director of the bureau, suspects that the girl is suffering from metabolic disorder after a preliminary diagnosis. "Our bureau will organize medical experts to treat her. Hopefully we can cure her," Xu said.

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