By Becca Husselbee
A talented young ballet dancer stopped growing at the age of 11 after her food allergies became so severe she refused to eat anything but SAUSAGES.
Erinn Godwin Whalley, now 17, suffered her first allergic reaction to hummus when she was just a year-old and became so terrified of eating that doctors were forced to administer a feeding tube.
As a result, the teen from, Pitlochry, Scotland, would only eat sausages and pasta and at the age of 11 was the same size as a six-year-old child because her limited diet stunted her growth.
But now, the pretty student has battled to overcome her food demons – and has even managed to follow her dream of becoming a dnacer, and secure herself a place in the Royal Ballet.
Erinn, who is now a 4ft 8, said: “I don’t remember much about my first reaction as I was just a baby then but I remember just being so scared of trying new things and being so anxious around meal times.
“The only things I would eat were sausages and pasta because in my head all I knew was that food made me ill.
“All I could manage was moving food from one plate to the other.”
Erin’s mum, Myette, 52 and Dad, Mike, 43, battled to keep her daughter healthy through her extreme food phobia and were terrified that she would deteriorate after catching a virus.
Myette, who previously worked in musical theatre, said: “We were on our way to Devon for a holiday when Erinn had her first allergic reaction.
“I passed her a cracker with some hummus on in the back of the car when her lips started to swell, she turned a funny colour and she was struggling to breathe.
“Eventually an air ambulance was sent and she was initially diagnosed as having an allergy to sesame seeds.
“From there it progressed to other allergies, such as eggs, and from then on it was like she considered all foods as being dangerous.
“She was so frightened of eating that she would shake and it just went on for years, we saw a child’s physiologist who tried everything with her. Getting her to draw different foods, getting her to smell, lick and then taste food, but she still really struggled.
“The dinner table became a very emotional thing, and we had to learn to take a step back and not get so angry even though we were desperate for her to eat.
“She got so thin that you could see her bones.”
Things took a turn for the worse when Erinn was four-years-old and was admitted to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary with a virus, doctors were so worried that her body was too malnourished to be able to fight the infection that she was fitted with a feeding tube and a fluid drip.
It was later discovered that Erinn was also suffering from a condition called Multiple Pituitary Hormone Deficiency (MPHD) meaning her pituitary gland does not produce enough hormone for growth, causing symptoms such as muscle weakness, pale appearance, and decreased energy.
However, with the help of her parents and doctors, Erinn eventually started to eat certain foods, her favourite being sausages, until she was coaxed into eating other foods such as spaghetti bolognese and even a roast dinner.
Mum, Myette, said: “When she first ate a roast dinner we were all cheering but there are still certain foods she finds stressful such as fruit or anything that’s mixed, like risotto.”
Erinn now takes daily growth hormone injections to replace the hormones her body is not producing and stands at 4ft 8in compared to her 15-year-old brother, Aedan, who is over a foot taller.
But despite her condition and her small size the plucky teen has made her way into the Royal Ballet.
Myette said: “Mike and I ran a theatre company for many years so in many ways she born into the industry.
“She would sit at the side of the stage in her carrier as a baby while I performed and when we took her to watch the Nutcracker she was hooked.
“The Royal Ballet has been great and support her throughout her condition.”
Erinn is now hoping to achieve big things as part of her ballet career as well as studying for her A-Level exams after being excepted into the prestigious Ballet West dance school, in Oban.
Myette said: “With medical help and sheer hard work she gained the strength and techniques needed to become a ballet dancer.
“She has worked extremely hard to gain this place.