It seems 2014 could be a very good year for Alexis Shapiro, the Texas 12-year-old whose plight got a wave of national attention over the weekend. Alexis suffers from hypothalamic obesity, a rare condition that causes her to constantly feel hungry; even with a strict diet, her 4-foot-7 frame carries 198 pounds, and she gains at least two pounds a week. Doctors believe gastric bypass surgery is the only thing that can help, but her insurer turned her down because of her age. Now, NBC News reports she could get the surgery within six weeks.
Pediatric obesity expert Dr. Thomas Inge says that now that the family has the money for the surgery—thanks to nearly 1,800 donors who have given more than $73,000 to date on Alexis' GoFundMe site; four unnamed philanthropists have also offered assistance—Alexis could undergo it within six weeks at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "The team is certainly in favor from a medical standpoint of moving forward as quickly as we can." Inge says than in addition to losing weight, the surgery should help soften the disconnect between her brain and her gut that causes her to feel so hungry. Click for more on her condition, which has worsened to the point that her mom says she told her psychologist "she wants to die." (Read more Alexis Shapiro stories.)