A teenage girl who was fed through a tube for her whole life has finally eaten her first full meal following a double lung transplant – and discovered a craze for CURRIES.
Cystic fibrosis sufferer Chloe Baker, 14, who survived for 13 years on high calorie milk, now adores munching on Chicken Tikka Masala, pilau rice and poppadoms. Four months ago the youngster was too weak to walk, breathe or even eat unaided and relied on a wheelchair and almost constant oxygen to get by. The chronically ill schoolgirl struggled to swallow food and had been fed through a tube directly into her stomach since she was 12 months old. Last summer Chloe’s condition deteriorated even further when she was diagnosed with a bacterial infection and doctors warned she would die unless she received new lungs.
Two weeks after being put on a transplant list in January her parents received a midnight phone call to say a donor had been found for the difficult and dangerous surgery. Chloe was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital at 2am on January 31 where she underwent a ten hour operation and her family endured a fraught wait to hear if she would survive.Despite the transplant only having a 50 per cent chance of success incredible Chloe was eating within days and walking again less than two weeks later.
And after years of not eating solid food, she has now developed an insatiable appetite for curries, especially her mum’s homemade Chicken Tikka Masala special. Delighted mum Christine, 46, said Chloe’s progress was ”unbelievable” and the youngster could finally enjoy being a normal teenage girl. Pre-school assistant Christine, from Milton Keynes, Bucks., said: ”Sometimes I think fate must have stepped in to lend a hand. ”She was only on the transplant list for two weeks when we got the call. ”A week before the operation I remember looking at her and thinking she was going to die. Even getting out of bed and going to the toilet was exhausting. ”She was fed through a tube because it was less tiring. Chloe used to struggle to eat one chicken nugget and a couple of chips, it left her completely drained.
”But once she discovered the joys of food after the operation there was no stopping her. “‘Curries are her favourite. My sister even used to take her poppadoms to eat in hospital after she had the operation. ”They say sometimes children with cystic fibrosis have funny taste buds, and Chloe obviously has a taste for Indian.”She could never enjoy it before but now she loves Indian food, especially my homemade version.”
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited life-limiting condition that affects around 8,500 people in the UK. It affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus making it hard to breathe and digest food. Chloe was diagnosed at four months old and as she was a particularly severe case, needed a transplant a ”last resort” to prolong her life. Christine said as she, husband Chris, 49, a kitchen designer, and sister Rachel, 18, were shocked when a donor was found within two weeks rather than the usual seven months. But because Chloe was so ill with the bacterial infection her procedure had added complications.
Christine added: ”It was so hard just waiting to hear how it went. Although we were all positive you could not help but feel sick inside with worry. ”The relief when they said the operation had been a success was indescribable. Nothing else we do in our lives will come close to how we felt over that ten hour window. ”Since then she has gone from strength to strength. It’s incredible.”
Chloe has now returned to school, spends time with her friends and no longer needs daily intravenous drips. She had also achieved her simple but previously impossible personal ambition, of taking her dog Poppy, a Tibetan terrier, out for a walk. The brave youngster said since the transplant she is determined to make every moment count.
She said: ”It’s just amazing to hang out with my friends, meet up in the park, walk home from school, and take my dog out. ”And I love being able to enjoy my food at last, going out for a curry is a treat whereas it used to be too tiring to eat. ”Before all I thought about all the time was breathing. Now I don’t even notice it, I just do it like everyone else.
”I was quite scared before the operation and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on the transplant list. But it’s all been worth it.”