Doctors baffled by 12-year-old’s mystery illness
Landon Jones, a 12-year-old boy from Iowa woke up with a mystery illness one day. Although he can taste, swallow and digest food normally, he never feels hungry or thirsty. Therefore, refuses to eat or drink. The strange symptoms developed about a year ago, after his 11th birthday, without any warning. On the morning of October 14th, 2013, Landon woke up with complaints of dizziness and chest congestion. This led to a hospital visit where the doctors advised a chest X-ray which showed a bacterial infection in his left lung. The infection was successfully treated with antibiotics.
But then he just stopped eating
The previous day was completely normal, Landon devoured a bowl of ice cream and slices of pizza. But the next day, he had absolutely no urge of eating or drinking. Landon’s parents had held off on sharing the story for the longest time for their privacy. However, desperate for answers, they revealed their story.
“It’s hard to explain,” Landon’s father Michael said. “You have a child who’s running and playing and laughing and then you wake up one night and our world is flipped upside down.”
This was only the beginning of countless doctor’s appointments and medical tests. Doctors were baffled by his condition and ruled out several different illnesses. But, were still unable to give him a diagnosis.
“You can put food in front of him, he won’t touch it,” Michael said. “It’ll sit there all day and all night.”
Landon lost 40% of his body weight and went from 104 to just 68.4 pounds. He shed two pounds per week. His parents consulted doctors in five different cities, including Rochester, Minnesota, where pediatric neurologist Marc Patterson examined him at the Mayo clinic.
“This combination of loss of appetite and loss of thirst is something that I have not encountered before,” he said.
Petterson believed that the problem could be in the boy’s hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that regulates, hunger, thirst, and other functions, for example, sleep and body temperature. In Landon’s case, the functions that are automatic and involuntary for us have become voluntary for him.
Landon’s mystery illness presents as a unique challenge for his parents. His dad, Michael, would sit with him at every meal, encourage him to eat and drink. Whereas his mom, Debbie, stocks their kitchen with high-calorie protein snacks and healthy foods, in hopes of it helping Landon maintain his weight and health. However, “even on the boosts and the weight gainers, he still is continuing to lose weight,” Debbie explained.
In addition, the mystery illness has left him weak and forced him to give up many of his favorite activities, including playing the trombone. But doctors are still unable to get to the root of Landon’s problems.
The family has contacted a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that helps evaluate and treat rare diseases in patients. Only a few patients are invited to be evaluated by the NIH, each year, Landon’s parents are hoping that he will be one of them.
Source: Des Moines Register