An American girl, who suffers from a rare and undiagnosed syndrome that prevents her from putting on weight, has to eat every 15 minutes in order to stay alive. Lizzie Velasquez, 21, from Texas, who is a communications student, weighs just 25.4 kg and has almost zero per cent body fat, but is not anorexic. This, despite 60 small meals a day, consisting of between 5,000 and 8,000 calories daily. Velasquez had been born four weeks prematurely and doctors found there was minimal amniotic fluid protecting her in the womb. Genetic experts could not diagnose her illness, and her case fascinated doctors all over the world. Now she is part of a study run by Professor Abhimanyu Garg in Dallas. Garg believes Velasquez may have Neonatal Progeroid Syndrome which causes accelerated ageing, fat loss from the face and body. People with PRS often have triangular and prematurely aged faces with pointy nose.
Lizzie said: “I weigh myself regularly and if I gain even one pound I get really excited. I eat every 15-20 minutes to keep my energy levels up. I eat small portions of crisps, sweets, chocolate, pizza, chicken, cake, doughnuts, ice cream, noodles and pop tarts all day long, so I get pretty upset when people accuse me of being anorexic. When I meet new people I have to say: ‘Hi, I’m Lizzie and I have this rare syndrome, I am NOT anorexic’.”
Lizzie has a brother Chris, 12, and a sister Marina, 15, who are both normal.She was born four weeks prematurely – weighing just 2lb 10oz.
Lizzie’s parents said: “They told us they had no idea how she could have survived. They told us she would never be able to walk, talk or have a normal life. We had to buy dolls’ clothes from the toy store because baby clothes were too big.”
Despite what her appearance might suggest, Lizzie’s brain, bones, internal organs… developed normally, but she nearly died twice: once when her appendix ruptured at 16 and another time at 19, because her blood cells were not multiplying properly (she was critically anemic).Lizzie was born with two brown eyes, but when she was four, her right eye began to change of color and she became blind from that eye.