Woman literally starving to death as rare condition leaves her unable to eat or drink
A woman who has a rare syndrome that leaves her unable to eat or drink is fighting for her life as the condition literally starves her to death.
Nicolette Baker, 36, weighs only 20kg after a lifetime of suffering from an incredibly rare syndrome that causes eating to become "excruciatingly painful", she said.
She is hoping to receive a life-changing operation in Germany at the end of February, Cornwall Live reports.
She said: "I don't know if I'll make it until the surgery date but I'm living for each day and the hope that I can get better is giving me something to look forward to."
Despite having the syndrome from birth, Nicolette received a diagnosis for Superior Mesenteric Arterial syndrome (SMAS) just seven years ago.
She said that from as young as four she was restricting her food to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with eating.
Sufferers of SMAS can develop a fear of eating from the pressure it puts on the small intestine, with a blockage of food rot causing vomiting and bacterial infections.
Although it has an incident rate of just 0.013% and is not well-known among medical professionals in the UK, one-third of those with the extremely rare condition die of malnutrition.
As a result, Nicolette was misdiagnosed with "severe and enduring anorexia nervosa" for the majority of her life and was sectioned multiple times and received ineffective treatments she described as "traumatic".
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She said: "For 25 years, I was treated as a mental patient with an eating disorder throughout childhood, early teens and into adulthood.
"I was sent to eating disorder units across the country for months sometimes to a year on end, forced to gain weight with punitive feeding regimes which my digestive system simply couldn't manage.
"I felt completely humiliated and my identity stripped away during these decades of treatment not least because I simply couldn't get it through to professionals that I could not stomach the food in me.
"I didn't have anorexia because I wanted to be thin. I simply didn't want to eat because of the pain it caused me,” Nicolette said."
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After several consultants and CT scans, Nicolette was diagnosed with SMAS and immediately opted for a feeding tube.
Despite this, the severity of Nicolette's condition means that even this method of feeding became too difficult and the possibility for surgery in the UK was ruled out due to the risks of sedating someone in such critical health.
However, with the help of a Facebook SMAS support group, Nicolette has been in touch with an expert in vascular compressions in Germany who agreed to perform life saving surgery on her in February.
Nicolette has also started a Go Fund Me page to help cover the costs of the operation and travel.
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She said the results of the surgery are "not guaranteed" but it was her "last chance to reclaim my quality of life."
A friend of Nicolette said: "When we go to the doctors, we assume that they will know what to do. It’s uncharted territory when they don’t.
"Nicolette is very exhausted but she is tenacious, determined and strong. It’s outstanding considering her circumstances. This really is her last chance."
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