Boy who ate toilet paper and dirt due to rare medical condition that made him feel hungry always dies aged 11
The boy had undergone a tracheotomy due to his obesity. He also suffered from an enlarged heart, diabetes, and depression owing to his condition.
Caden Benjamin was already weighing 90 kilograms by the time he was 10 since he suffered from the rare Prader-Willi syndrome, a condition characterized by an obsessive compulsion to eat. On November 15, he died at the Steve Biko Hospital, Pretoria, in South Africa's Gauteng Province, Daily Mail reports.
Due to the condition, Caden never felt full as his brain could not register that his body did not need to eat anymore right after eating a full meal. Eventually, the 11-year-old ended up eating toilet paper and dirt if he was unable to consume anything else. Caden was forced to undergo a tracheotomy several years ago due to his obesity, after which he permanently breathed through a tube inserted into his windpipe, say reports. Furthermore, he suffered from an enlarged heart, diabetes and depression owing to his condition.
After his mother Zola couldn't afford Caden's care anymore, family friend Gila Sacks started a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the youngster. After his death, the campaign was extended to support his funeral expenses. According to Sacks, Zola "was devastated" at "losing her only child", and said that Caden was her "whole life".
The troubled mother had described her son's condition last year. "At one point, Caden was eating toilet paper. He'd eat rolls of it," she said. "Actually, he'd eat any paper he would find in the house. If there's nothing for him to eat, he'll scrape together the dirt he finds on the floor and eat that."
That said, thousands of people across the globe suffer from physical, mental and behavioral problems due to the incurable Prader-Willi syndrome. What's worse is that patients need less food than their peers as their bodies have less muscle mass and tend to burn fewer calories. However, they end up eating a lot more. Zola said last year: "At three years old he was 40 kg (6 stone 4 lbs) and at that time, we didn't know what was wrong with him. We went to a number of doctors and no one could tell us what was wrong and why he was gaining so much weight."
It was only later that a doctor at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria diagnosed Caden's illness after running multiple tests. Benjamin continued: "Normally he would start off the day by eating four slices of cheese toast and then an hour later he would drink Coke and eat leftover food from the night before. Then at lunch, he'd eat two large pieces of chicken. He'd eat hourly for the rest of the day."
Unable to find a solution for his ever-increasing weight and deteriorating health, doctors prescribed a diet for young Caden - who wore men's XL size clothes due to his size. Zola described every day as a "battle" as she had to lock all the kitchen cabinets and the fridge and hide all food items in the house. After being unable to live like a normal child and play with the other children, Caden suffered frequent bouts of depression. Many a time, he would break down in tears saying he wanted to go outside and play with his friends.
If you would like to help the family cover funeral expenses, you can do so here.