Austrian docs cure boys eating phobia

A young boy who has been unable to eat or drink anything for five years due to a severe phobia has finally taken his first sips thanks to Austrian doctors.

English lad Daniel Harrison, 5, would not let anything pass his lips – even though there is nothing physically stopping him.

According to the Daily Mail  the youngster from Nottingham has a phobia of eating and drinking after a bad case of acid reflux as a baby left him in terrible pain.

This means apart from breastfeeding as a baby, Daniel has never swallowed any type of food or drink – until now.

His desperate parents Kevin and Catherine raised £25,000 to take Daniel to University Hospital in Graz, where they treated the condition successfully.

Medics in Austria use a technique not practised in the UK – a model which uses a variety of in-house methods to make a youngster realise they need and want food.

After treatment Daniel, who also has autism, successfully swallowed a glass of milk.

Kevin said: ‘It was incredible seeing Daniel drink for the first time. Catherine and I just cried and cried.

‘I’m so proud of him – it’s the best thing in the world to see my son make such a breakthrough in his phobia.

‘Daniel is a great little boy but how is he meant to function in adulthood without being able to eat.

‘Our local Public Health Trust (PCT) refused to offer us any funding and even for things like help with travel costs we have been told we can’t get help because we are working.

‘Our only chance was to take him to the hospital in Austria, as they are the only people who say they have treated a condition like Daniel’s successfully.

‘The problem is Daniel’s case is so rare, even in Graz they have only seen and cured 12 youngsters and that is over 22 years.’

The memory of the painful acid reflex he had means Daniel has refused to take anything solid since – and was fed through a tube in his tummy for four years.

He is able to be fed by a syringe with a teet on the end which he sucks – similar to how he would have been able to drink milk while breastfeeding.

Daniel is now to get a specially designed water bottle, made using the same concept to allow him to swallow the milk without fear.

The milk is made up of a special formula which holds all of the key nutrients that Daniel needs to keep him healthy and nourished.

Throughout Daniel’s short life, his parents have faced a constant daily struggle to find a way to help their son eat and drink.

The youngster has no interest in food as he doesn’t understand its purpose and his body doesn’t recognise the need or desire for it.

Daniel sits at the dinner table during family meal times but has to be entertained with toys.  Kevin and his house letting manager wife Catherine, 37, travelled down to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London but experts were unable to help.

They then decided to fundraise after hearing about the Austrian treatment.

Kevin said: ‘Both Catherine and I have to take time off to take Daniel for treatment and we simply can’t afford the huge cost it would take to get him to the clinic.’

Daniel has had numerous medical procedures and operations to try and correct his condition medically but with no success.

In November 2009 he bravely fought off swine flu which developed into pneumonia and a collapsed lung.

He said: ‘It would be the proudest day of my life to be able to sit round the table and watch both of my children eat a proper meal.

‘Catherine and I worry about what would happen if something happened to us, we want Daniel to able to eat and feed himself.

‘The strain on his sister, Hannah, 9, is enormous also – to see your brother starving himself would be traumatic at any age, but she has been wonderful and is a credit to her brother.

‘There is nothing medically stopping our son from eating, it is in his mind, but there has been nobody yet that has managed to help him overcome that.

‘The hospital in Austria have a 92 per cent success rate so we are confident we may be able to cure Daniel.

‘You can’t think about yesterday and you can’t think about tomorrow. You can’t have doubts – you’ve got to remain positive and we’re hoping that attitude will be reflected in Daniel’s success.’