TODAY   |  December 30, 2013

Due to rare disorder, young girl cannot stop eating

A young girl has a rare disorder that puts her in a state of constant hunger, and her family turned to the public for help after their insurance company declined to cover weight-loss surgery that could help prevent future health problems for her. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> take a turn right now and tell you a story from texas where a young girl is fighting for her life. she suffers from a rare disorder that left her in a state of con ta constant hunger but with her family growing desperate today, there is new hope.

>> she is a really great kid.

>> she remembers the life her daughter alexis used to have.

>> we share a bond like no other.

>> reporter: two years ago near san antonio alexis had surgery to remove a brain tumor . the operation went well but.

>> we didn't know what a journey it would be after the fact.

>> reporter: the tumor damaged the part of the brain that regulates appetite and weight. since the surgery, alexis has not been able to stop growing.

>> she is always hungry and it's not her fault. it's her brain and her body telling her that she is starving.

>> peaches?

>> yes.

>> reporter: now even with a strict diet of 900 to 1400 calories a day, alexis , now 12, weighs about 200 pounds.

>> every day life is a challenge for her.

>> reporter: doctors told the family alexi would need gastic bypass to prevent a slew of health problems but then came the letter from the insurance company .

>> our reviewers denied your request.

>> reporter: telling them weight loss surgeries are only cover first degree the patient is 18.

>> i'm trying to help her and i can't get the help she needs.

>> reporter: in an e mail to nbc news the insurance company wouldn't discuss details of her treatment but says we have an appeals process in place. beneficiaries who have been denied care which their doctors feel is necessary need to take advantage of that process. but rather than wait, the family went online to start fund-raising and that's when alex alexis 's journey took an amazing turn.

>> it restores my hope and faith.

>> reporter: the site raised more than $53,000 for medical expenses.

>> it's been overwhelming. i can't believe it. i cannot be thankful enough. we felt so along for so long.

>> reporter: a mother's weight of the world lifted. for today, gabe gutierrez, nbc news, atlanta.

>> for all the talk about problems in the world it's always nice to see the generosity of strangers.