Vesper (2) misses hunger stimulus and does not want to eat: ‘Special therapy gives us hope’

Whether it concerns fruit, fries, broccoli, or a Danoontje: the 2-year-old toddler Vesper from Vianen is determined: she does not eat. Never.

“She was breastfeeding until she was one and a half years old,” says father Gino Brugman (24). “But she doesn’t want anything besides breast milk. So she has been tube feeding for the rest of her young life.”

Tried everything

Brugman tells how he and his wife Demi have tried everything. “But whatever you serve her, she spits out everything or starts to struggle. She refuses to swallow food. She doesn’t. No matter how long it takes.”

That is sometimes maddening, but the parents remain sober. “Maybe we will succeed because we are still relatively young.”

They visited general practitioners, pediatricians, dining teams and child whisperers. “Vesper weakened and was always sick. But doctors couldn’t find anything. Except that she was born prematurely, at 33 weeks. They suspect it is because of it.”

Never seen

The doctors say, according to Brugman, that the girl has no hunger stimulus. “Our doctor at the children’s hospital told us that he has never seen this.”

After a visit to doctors it became clear how serious Vesper is: “She was almost starved and missed all kinds of vitamins and building materials. She compared her to an undernourished child from Africa. Then you are very shocked. If it were a few months longer she was starving. ”

Pediatrician: ‘Very rare’

Pediatrician at Erasmus MC and chair of the national obesity expertise group, Erica van den Akker, says: “The hunger stimulus is regularly deep in the brain. There is, as it were, the thermostat of saturation. Sometimes it goes wrong, which disturbs the stimulus. In our Erasmus MC Healthy Weight Center we see children with the opposite problem: that children are insatiable and become extremely heavy because there is a continuous hunger stimulus. Conversely – that a child has no hunger stimulus – is very rare. “

What could be the cause? “There are many reasons why the hunger stimulus is disturbed. That can be psychological, but also a medical and genetic nature are possible.”

The therapies in the Netherlands were of no use, but early this year Vesper’s parents heard about a therapy in Austria. That gave hope. This treatment is not cheap, about 10,000 euros, and the health insurance does not cover the treatment. So the family started one early this year crowdfunding campaign. Successfully. “We have now achieved enough to start treatment.”

Eat while playing

From September 5 to 20, the whole family (Vesper also has a brother) goes to the medical clinic in Austria where Vesper will follow a special eating program. “They playfully try to get her to eat. It is intensive and we will also be part of the therapy, but the chance of success is very high.”

Stress and panic

Brugman is hopeful that the therapy will help and that Vesper will finally be released from the tube feeding. She is now 100 percent dependent on that.

“She now gets a liter of tube food every day. That is an unnatural food that only contains the necessary iron and vitamins. She can live on it for the rest of her life, but we don’t want that. Every six weeks the tube has to be replaced and that creates a lot of stress and panic. “

They grant Vesper the life of a carefree child, says Brugman. “We have every hope that the therapy will catch on and that Vesper can finally have a normal life.”

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