June 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM ET
A Texas pre-teen who had obesity surgery to correct a rare disorder that left her always hungry and sent her weight climbing past 200 pounds is doing even better than doctors expected.
Alexis Shapiro, 12, of Cibolo, Texas, has shed 37 pounds since her operation in March, nearly as much as experts expected her to lose in the first year. She’s not only slimmer, but also healthier — and happier — as she and her family told a TODAY show crew that caught up Alexis at her last checkup.
“She has more energy and she can move better and faster now and her type 2 diabetes is gone,” said Alexis’ mom, Jenny Shapiro, 35.
It’s been a struggle, for sure, said Jenny Shapiro, who fought for the surgery after the family’s insurance company refused to pay for the doctor-recommended operation. Alexis developed rare hypothalamic obesity after surgery for a benign brain tumor nearly three years ago sent her metabolism haywire.
She wound up having a gastric sleeve procedure that reduced the size of her stomach and curbed her appetite by targeting messages to her brain.
Insurers finally covered the cost, but the family was also helped by donations from tens of thousands of strangers around the world who contributed more than $87,000.
Alexis is working toward a more normal life, swimming in a pool with her siblings, working out at a local gym and just getting back to being 12, her mom said.