World’s heaviest woman Eman’s doctor to treat 3 obese kids from Gujarat
Seven-year-old Yogita Nandwana weighs 45kg, five-year-old Anisha is even heavier at 68kg, and their three-year-old brother Harsh weights 25kgUpdated: May 06, 2017 11:00 IST
Dr Muffazal Lakdawala, who helped Egyptian Eman Ahmed bring her weight down from nearly 500 kg to around 250 kg in two months, now plans to help three siblings from the Gujarat village who appear to have a genetic mutation, just like Eman, that is making them morbidly obese.
Seven-year-old Yogita Nandwana weighs 45kg, five-year-old Anisha is even heavier at 68kg, and their three-year-old brother Harsh weights 25kg. Together they eat enough food in a week to feed two families of four for a month. Their parents are so poor, the rest of the village pitches in to feed them.
Dr Lakdawala told HT that as in Eman’s case, a gene mutation was responsible for the children’s severe obesity.
The cause of the Nandwana siblings’ obesity – a mutation in the leptin receptor protein (LEPR) gene – was revealed by a genetic marker test conducted in Gujarat.
There is currently no specific treatment for this condition. However, a drug called MC4R Agonist, only available through a pharmaceutical company in the US, could help Eman and the three children. “The drug has been tested on three paediatric patients. We are trying to convince US officials to conduct the trial in India,” said Dr Lakdawala. He added that he is scheduled to meet officials from the US firm on April 20.
“The village is so small we can’t even get one kilogram of sugar at a time. There is not much work here but I work as a labourer and my wife works on a farm,” said Ramesh, the father of the children. They earn about Rs 5,000 a month, which isn’t enough to cover even the children’s food expenses – Rs6,000 to Rs7,000 a month.
“The entire village helps us to feed the children. Some give us rotis while others help out with gravy,” said Ramesh. The children consume milk worth Rs 100, more than 30 rotis, and more than a kilo of vegetables every day. They also need biscuits, wafers and other snacks every half an hour to prevent them from becoming cranky.
“Earlier they would cry and howl if they didn’t get food. But two years ago they were admitted to Ahmedabad civil hospital for 20 days. The food and the injections they received caused them to despise their hospital stay. Now they don’t cry for food, fearing they will be sent back to the hospital, but they are still hungry all the time,” Ramesh added.
Dr Akshay Mandviya from Mandviya Children’s Hospital was the first to treat the siblings. She suspects that they have a genetic disorder known as Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), a complex condition affects many parts of the body and causes Type-2 diabetes and obesity.
“We really don’t have the resources to diagnose the children but they used to come to us with other ailments such as pneumonia or fever. They could be treated if there was something wrong with their hormone levels but if it’s a genetic problem, nothing much can be done,” said Dr Mandviya. He added that after local media highlighted the plight of the family, Ahmedabad Civil Hospital offered to treat them.
However, Dr K M Maheria, head of paediatrics at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, said even they couldn’t diagnose the problem. “We don’t have an endocrinologist but we did put the children on a diet. We saw a slight weight reduction but we couldn’t provide any specific treatment,” said Dr Maheria. He added that he has spoken to Dr Lakdawala about the children’s condition.
Ramesh said that taking the children to a hospital when there was nothing medically wrong with them didn’t make sense. “I thought it was better to focus on working and earning enough to feed them. They need a diet of fruit juices and salads but we can’t afford it,” he said. Two years ago, he had said he would sell a kidney to feed his children.