Eleven-year old Nour from Gaza trudges her legs, carrying her 140-kilogram body. She visits the local medical care center on a monthly basis to monitor her weakening genetic condition.
“Her case is medically known as the Prader-Willi Syndrome. It results from a chromosomal disorder, particularly in chromosome number 15. It is genetically inherited through one of the parents. Patients have short hands and short feet during childhood and in some cases almond-shaped eyes,” her doctor said.
Nour’s weight gain began to escalate from the age of two, the average onset of the syndrome. Like most obesity cases, Nour suffers from several related illnesses like hypertension and diabetes.
“She has an insatiable appetite and suffers from speech problems. She needs to go to medical centers specialized in the treatment of obesity and these are not available in the Gaza Strip,” her doctor said.
Nour’s mental capacity is also affected by her condition, setting her back to third grade of elementary education. One of her teachers said that she has the mental age of an eight-year old, 3 years younger than her actual age.
Her mother stays close to her when she is asleep, keeping a watchful eye on her daughter’s breathing.
“I have to sleep with her in the same room and monitor her breathing in case something happens to her. She clings to me and I cling to her even more. I can’t get any rest except after ensuring she is sleeping in the right position and the pillows are properly adjusted so that she is comfortable,” Nour’s mother said.
Nour hopes for a cure for a condition, something to alleviate the pain of her legs. She says she wants to play with the rest of the girls, without the tiresome burden of her weight.