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Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK


Afraid to eat

Liam Hirst is afraid to eat and he also has allergies to food like eggs

A four-year-old Yorkshire boy is suffering from a rare disorder which makes him afraid to eat.

Liam Hirst has to spend 16 hours a day linked up to a feeding machine because he fears eating after he developed a rare disorder as an infant.

Liam suffered from acid reflux, a condition which made eating very painful and filled his digestive system with acid, causing his stomach to ulcerate.

Food aversion

He developed an aversion to food as a result and could only eat tiny bird-like amounts.

He had to have his stomach tied up so that the acid could not regurgitate upwards.

However, the psychological effects continue as he associates eating with pain.

He now weighs just two stone and is fed mostly through a hole in his stomach, although he can eat a small amount of food.

His mother Diane tries to find fun ways of enticing him to eat, for example, using play toast.


Liam also has an allergy to 35 food types, including soya, milk and eggs, and has other learning and physical disabilities.

He has a condition called ligamentus laxity or hyper mobile joints, which means his joints are too loose to support him properly.

As a result, he has to wear calipers and needs a wheelchair.

And he is doubly incontinent.


Bradford-based charity the Disabled Children's Foundation (DCF) has raised money for a wheelchair for Liam.

It is also trying to raise funds for a computer to help him with his learning difficulties and to get over the boredom of having to spend 16 hours - 12 at night and four during the day - attached to a feeding machine.

It also wants to rent a car to take him on his regular visits to hospital.

Liam does not qualify for a motability allowance to help him get to hospital until he is five.


"It is barmy," said DCF spokeswoman Mandy Fishburn.

"He desperately needs help now. He is a remarkable boy, full of spirit and life. You would not think he had had such a traumatic early life."

The charity is having trouble raising money and is asking for donations.

Anyone who wants to help should ring the DCF on 01274 616766 or send donations to the DCF at PO Box 57, Otley, Leeds.

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