Woman slowly starving to death from rare stomach disorder

For many women, wanting to lose more weight is a constant battle between our willpower and our desire to eat. For Lisa Brown of Wisconsin, it’s the exact opposite. The frail 32-year-old woman suffers from a disease that is slowly making her starve to death and she is fighting for her life.

Brown suffers from something very rare called superior mesenteric artery syndrome. It happens when a part of the small intestine is trapped between two arteries, making digestion impossible. She also has gastroparesis, a condition that doesn’t allow her to absorb vital nutrients because her stomach doesn’t empty itself normally.

In other words, Brown is starving to death. Not on purpose. Not because she wants to be thin. Because she can’t digest her food. Puts things in perspective, no?

At 5’10” Brown once weighed a healthy 140 pounds, but has gone as low as 89 because of her disorder. She is now on a feeding tube 20 hours a day. Even so, getting to a diagnosis has been very hard. See below: 

At first she was told she had acid reflux. In fact, it took many tries to finally identify SMAS, which is so rare there are only 400 known cases of the disorder in the world. Brown has become one of them. She hopes to one day go to Italy and resume her normal life with her husband, but in the meantime, she must get better.

This shines a light on how scary it can be to be diagnosed with something rare and how difficult it can be to get that correct diagnosis. My heart goes out to Brown, but it is also a lesson to all women not to give up until they are able to find the correct diagnosis. We must seek second opinions and advocate for ourselves and have family members who advocate for us as well.

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Had they not found out what Brown has, who knows what might have happened. She is continuing to slowly improve, but it is an uphill battle and she has had many setbacks. Still, it is important to know something like this can happen so that we can send her positive thoughts and also be grateful for the small things we take for granted.

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Let’s hope Brown is able to do all that she dreams.


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