12-year-old Landon Jones, from Waterloo, Iowa, hasn’t felt hungry or thirsty since October 14, 2013. He went to bed on a full stomach of pizza and ice cream the night before, and when he woke up, he had simply lost all sensation of hunger and thirst. Instead, the once energetic kid has been sick and suffered dizziness ever since.
A year later, Landon’s parents are still baffled by his condition; they have no idea what is wrong with him or how to help him. “Landon always laughed, he was always very energetic, always wanting to ride his bike, wanting to go to the park,” said Mr. Jones. “Then on October 14 of last year, he woke up and it stopped. He lost all sensation of hunger, he lost all sensation of thirst.”
Landon’s pediatrician in Iowa prescribed antibiotics, but they made no difference at all. He was then taken to doctors in other cities – Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Madison, and the world renowned Mayo Clinic in Minnesota – but no one has been able to give the Jones’ any answers. Dr. Marc Patterson, a child neurologist at the Mayo Clinic said Landon’s case might be the only one of its kind in the world.
Experts have speculated that the boy might be suffering from a malfunctioning hypothalamus – the portion of the brain responsible for regulating hunger, thirst, body temperature, blood pressure and sleep cycles, but there isn’t any conclusive evidence to suggest this. “They could do bloodwork, they could do all these tests, and those are all going to come back normal. But they cannot do a test for the hypothalamus,” Mr. Jones explained.
The Jones’ also suspect that the cause of Landon’s illness might be the treatment he received three years ago for absence seizures. At age 9, he would sit and stare into space, oblivious to the world around him. He was put on a drug called Depakote, which is commonly used to treat such seizures, for a year. Doctors are now wondering if there is a link between the drug and the suppression of his appetite. But that isn’t the most likely explanation because Depakote is typically linked to increased hunger and weight gain.
Landon’s next appointment will be at the National Institutes of Health, where they only examine the rarest of cases. Meanwhile, lack of nourishment has caused his weight to drop from a healthy 104 lbs to 68 lbs. And he continues to lose 2 lbs a week. While his parents try their very best to encourage him to eat, he is simply unable to eat more than a bite of his sandwich.
Understandably, Landon has become weak and lethargic; he’s attended only 65 days of school in the past year and prefers to lie on the couch while his 9-year-old brother Bryce runs around and plays with the family dog. His parents say that he hasn’t run for months, and is forced to watch his classmates play from the sidelines.
The Jones’ are pretty much at their wits end trying to find a solution to Landon’s unique problem. They spend anywhere between four to six hours a day just researching the case. “Sometimes, we feel like we’re failing as parents. And the reason we feel like we’re failing is because every time we put him on the scale, he loses. We could do weight gainers, we could do steroids, we could tell him to take a bite or a drink, but he either maintains, or he loses,” said Mr. Jones. He explained that Landon’s frustration at not being able to eat or drink is simply too hard for them to bear.
“This is no longer an animal or mice study,” he pleaded. “This is now with a human being. And it’s the first case, supposedly in history. We’re going through it. We don’t want recognition, we just want input. I think the medical field needs to collaborate and work with each other and try to figure out this weird situation.”
Let’s just hope that the family gets some answers soon so that young Landon can go back to being a normal kid again.
Sources: Des Moines Register