Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 06:38 GMT, Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Parents seek help for boy who does not eat

Autistic four-year-old Daniel has not eaten for years

The parents of an autistic boy who has not eaten food for more than three years say his only hope is a specialist clinic abroad.

Four-year-old Daniel Harrison, from Nottinghamshire, suffered from acid reflux as a baby and now refuses to eat or drink.

He is fed a special formula through a tube in his stomach.

His father Kevin Harrison said: "It's horrendous. He's my son. I'd give anything for him to eat."

After unsuccessful treatment in the UK, Daniel's family are now raising £20,000 to send him to a hospital that does pioneering work on children who are tube-fed in Graz, Austria.

Projectile vomiting

The first six months of Daniel's life were that of a normal baby.

But Daniel started being sick shortly after being weaned.

At first his parents did not connect the projectile vomiting with the intake of food, as it would occur hours after feeding.

But the vomiting continued to the point where, eventually, he refused food.

"We'd keep getting calls from nursery. 'You've got to come and fetch him he's been sick again'. We didn't know what was wrong," Mr Harrison said.

This continued until he was 17 months old and Daniel's only nutrition was his mother's breast milk.

"I'd had enough at this point so I took him to the Queen's Medical Centre [in Nottingham] and refused to leave until someone saw him," Daniel's father said.

Within minutes an oncologist diagnosed him with acid reflux.

Since that diagnosis Daniel has had over two years of treatment in Britain, working with feeding teams in Nottingham and at Great Ormond Street in London, without success.

His father said: "We've tried absolutely everything [to get him to eat]."

Kevin Harrison attaches a tube to his son's stomach which is used to feed him
Daniel has a button in his stomach through which he is fed

Although there is no medical reason for him not to, the four-year-old has never eaten solid food.

His fear of eating food, aligned with his autism, means that he would starve himself before eating.

Daniel has a little round button in the middle of his stomach through which he is fed.

"It's like a petrol cap. We take the lid off, put a tube in there and feed him with some special nutrients," said his father said.

Eating out with the family is a minefield, with people staring or offering well-meaning advice.

Daniel's health is also being affected by his condition as he is more susceptible to illness.

Last year Daniel caught swine flu, then pneumonia, suffered a collapsed lung and nearly died.

But the family are full of hope having made contact with Graz University Hospital.

"In 22 years in Graz they have had 12 children with Daniel's condition, that's how rare it is, but all 12 have been cured," said Kevin.



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific