The girl who can never eat
This is the little girl who can never eat a single mouthful of food.
Seven-year-old Daisy Palmer has a rare condition which means that she can't even suck so much as a boiled sweet.
Instead she is fed with liquids only through a tube straight into her heart in order to survive.
Her mother Tracy, 40, said: 'Daisy has never been able to eat any solid foods and she would give anything just to be able to eat like normal children. But she can't eat any food at all. Anything that she tries to swallow just comes straight back again, so she can only be fed a special liquid diet.
'She takes it all in her stride though, and she never stops smiling, even when she's in hospital.'
Mrs Palmer, who lives with husband Damon, 39, who works for a Japanese bank, and their older daughter Megan, 12, in Langdon Hills, Essex, first noticed something was wrong with Daisy when she was born.
She said: 'Daisy was a very sickly baby right from being born. She would take milk but it would come straight back up again and she was always screaming in pain.
'I knew that it wasn't normal as I'd already had one daughter who was perfectly healthy and never had any problems like this.'
Doctors carried out numerous tests on Daisy and they told Mrs Palmer that she had severe reflux and she was prescribed medication to try and help.
But as the months went by, her condition started to worsen and doctors carried out more tests on her bowel. It showed that her digestive system wasn't working normally, but doctors still didn't know what was wrong with her.
Mrs Palmer, a special needs support worker, said: 'It was so difficult and we just felt helpless. She was in so much pain and we just didn't know what to do to help her.
'Up to the age of four she managed to eat some liquid food, such as yoghurts, soup and custard, but after the age of four she couldn't even manage those.
'She was underweight for her age and at times she even dropped off the weight charts. She just wasn't putting on weight and we were worried sick about her. She would try and eat, but she just couldn't manage it as she was in so much pain.'
In October 2008, at the age of five, doctors eventually diagnosed her with Chronic Intestinal Pseudo-obstruction, a rare condition with symptoms like those caused by a bowel obstruction or blockage. But when the intestine are examined, no blockage is found.
Instead, the symptoms are due to nerve or muscle problems that affect the movement of food, fluid and air through the intestines.
There is no cure for the condition, but patients are fed through a feeding tube straight into the stomach.
Mrs Palmer said: 'It was a relief to have some answers as to what was causing Daisy's problems, and to finally be able to do something about it.
'She was at the stage where she literally couldn't eat anything, not even the liquid food that she had used to be able to have. She used to be able to suck a boiled sweet occasionally too, but she can't even do that now.'
Doctors initially fitted her with a feeding tube through her nose and into her stomach with a pre-digested milk pumped down into it to help her, but it wasn't enough.
So in January 2010 she was fitted with a special feeding tube straight into her heart and she remained in hospital until August last year. Since then she has spent 17 hours a day attached to a feeding machine at the family home.
She goes to school for a few hours each morning with her mum Tracy, and then at 3.30pm she has to be hooked straight up to the machine, which feeds her 1200 calories a day straight into her heart.
Mrs Palmer said: 'When she's older, the doctors will be able to put the food bags into a special rucksack for her which she will be able to carry around.
'But until then she has to stay at home attached to the machine. I have to hook her up to it for 17 hours and she will sit with her homework and her DVD player whilst the feed is being pumped into her.
'She is still hooked up to the machine whilst she's in bed asleep at night, and then comes off it at 8.30am to go to school.'
Daisy gets tired easily and doesn't always manage to go to school, but she tries to go in for a few hours at a time.
'We have to make sure all of the tube connections are completely sterile when we hook her up to the machine as we have to be so careful that no infection gets into the tube as it would go directly into her blood stream.'
Mrs Palmer added: 'She does ask me why she isn't normal, and why she can't just eat normal food like her friends. Daisy will never be able to have a burger , sausages or chips like all her friends. It's heartbreaking when she asks why she can't, but she does just get on with it.
'She never complains about not being able to eat, and we are so proud of her.'
What a brave girl.
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