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Donors pitch in to pay for surgery for extremely obese Texas girl

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Nearly 1,500 donors have pledged more than $62,000 to help pay for surgery for a 12-year-old Texas girl diagnosed as morbidly obese due to a brain disease that is causing her to gain about two pounds a week.

Alexis Shapiro suffered damage to her pituitary gland, which helps regulate weight, as a result of the brain disease. She has gained about 140 pounds (63.5 kgs) in less than two years because of the problem, her mother said. Her extreme excess of body fat is clinically defined as morbid obesity.

"It has been heartbreaking for her and for us. She cannot do the things she used to love," Jennifer Shapiro, her mother, said on the fundraising site GoFundMe.

The mother said she is seeking about $50,000 for life-saving surgery to reduce the size of her daughter's stomach because the family's insurance company will not pay for the procedure unless the patient is at least 18 or has achieved full bone growth.

Dr. Thomas Inge, a specialist in pediatric obesity at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, told NBC News that Alexis could receive the surgery at the hospital where he works within six weeks now that the funding appears to be in place.

"Alexis will be seen this week in Cincinnati, and the preparations for surgery will be made at that time," Inge told Reuters by email.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; editing by Andrew Hay)

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