By Taniya Dutta
A severe case gluten-allergy has left a seventeen-year-old Indian boy weighing just 41 pounds and with restricted growth.
Lucky Sahu stands only 3’5 feet tall and weighs just half the weight of an average child his age.
He is so frail that he walks like a baby and needs support to balance himself.
Lucky suffers from Celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine.
This means he is allergic to wheat products and throws up staple Indian food like chapati or flat bread, losing all nutrition.
His poor parents Ramesh Shau, 40, and Prtihvi Sahu, 38 have now started feeding him boiled vegetables and raw fruits to satiate his hunger.
Ramesh, who sells ice cream in a cart said: “He is extremely weak. He cannot digest chapatis and cooked vegetables. Every time he tries to eat that he throws up. He cannot eat like normally and eats less portion like small kids.”
Lucky was born through natural birth to Prithvi Sahu, 38, and was healthy until he started eating solid food. Once he turned two, his growth slowed down.
His distressed parents took him to several doctors and spent more than £5000 in check ups and tests but were heartbroken to be told by doctors that Lucky cannot grow as a normal child and would need special diet forever.
Prithvi says: “It is devastating to see your son not eating proper meals.
“Like any mother I want to feed tasty dishes to my son but he cannot eat anything. We cannot take him to any party because most of the things have gluten. He eats steamed rice with boiled vegetables.
“He likes cake but cannot eat it either. It breaks my heart to see him suffering.
“Other children Mae fun of him for his height and weight. He looks like an eight year old.
“We had named him Lucky because he was our first child and we were very happy to have him but we could not have ever thought that he would be so unlucky to be suffering from a disease that would not let him eat.”
Doctors, however, believe that Celiac disease that affects nearly 1 in thousand can only be treated through strict gluten-free diet.
Dr Srikant Somani, Endocrinologist, who specialises in similar cases like Lucky said: “Celiac is an autoimmune condition where in the body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine resulting into killing of those cells that digest the food and damaging villi that promotes nutrient absorption.
“When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.
“Celiac certainly limits the growth of a patient but the only treatment available for such a disease is to live gluten-free lifelong since the patients are sensitive to gluten.”