A girl aged 10 has started eating and drinking for the first time after overcoming an unexplained aversion to food.
For the first decade of her life, Tia-Mae McCarthy received all her vital nutrients through a tube.
However starting from a few tentative spoonfuls of yoghurt, she has now progressed to Angel Delight, mousse, ice cream, tomato soup, custard and semolina.
Her 44-year-old mother Sue, from Bournemouth, Dorset., says she is delighted with her progress.
"It's lovely to see her eating," she said. "We can go out for dinner now. I take a little pot of soup for her and she sits and eats with us. Then for pudding, she chooses ice cream or custard.
"I can't believe that just before Christmas, all she was eating was a few mouthfuls of yoghurt and now we have got this long list of things that she will sit down and happily eat. I never thought it would happen."
Born three months prematurely with a large gap between her oesophagus and her stomach, Tia spent most of her first year in hospital. Surgery corrected her medical problems and there was no physical reason why she couldn't eat or drink. In a drastic attempt to find a cure, Sue took Tia to an Austrian clinic that specialised in such disorders. There, Tia was starved for three whole weeks but it had little effect, except to leave her painfully thin and ill.
Then, on a trip to Spain, Tia suddenly started to show an interest in trying things. Sue tried giving her yoghurt, and amazingly, she accepted it. On their return to England, they saw a specialist in Birmingham, who told Sue to carry on offering Tia small amounts of food and gradually introduce new flavours.
Tia's menu now consists of two pots of yoghurt for breakfast, half a can of soup for lunch, followed by custard or ice cream and the same again for dinner. Sue is hoping that rice pudding will be Tia's next new experience but admits she is concerned about how she progresses to lumpier food.
"I keep thinking of her future, when she's out and about, meeting friends, going to the pictures - normal stuff that children do.
"I don't want her to miss out on all that. I think it bothers me than it bothers her."
Tia still does not relish the experience of eating and is still having nutrients and calories pumped directly into her stomach at night but her mother hopes is that eventually she will become less reliant on a drip.
"The specialist in Birmingham has been my light at the end of the tunnel," Ms McCarthy said.
"Because no-one knew what was wrong with Tia, they didn't know how to help us. I was left on my own, with no idea what to do. "We've now got little steps that are achievable and we feel much more positive about everything.Found this Post interesting? Receive new posts via RSS (What is RSS?) or Subscribe to Curious Read by Email