Sussex student hasn't eaten food for 16 months after developing a rare condition

A student hasn't had a single bite of food for 16 months after she suddenly developed a super-rare condition which means she vomits every time she eats.

Wednesday, 24th October 2018, 6:36 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th October 2018, 6:40 pm
Jessica Newman pictured in 2018 shortly after surgeons connected the intravenous line to her heart (Credit: Jessica Newman/SWNS)

Jessica Newman, 26, says her last solid meal was a chicken curry in June 2017 - and she is now fed through a tube straight into her heart.

She has been diagnosed with a stomach problem affecting just 500 people in the world.

Initially she thought it was just a stomach bug, and doctors even asked if she had anorexia, but after she lost nearly two stone in a month tests revealed the truth.

Jessica Newman pictured in 2017 with her boyfriend Steve Birkett before she got ill (Credit: Jessica Newman/SWNS)

She was diagnosed with multiple vascular compression syndrome - a stomach artery problem.

To stop her starving to death, the music student was fed liquid nutrients through a tube in her nose, hooked up to a heavy backpack of food she had to carry for 20 hours a day.

Now she’s now fed directly into the blood steam in her heart, and is waiting for an operation so she can finally enjoy a meal again.

Jess, from Brighton, who lives with boyfriend, Steve Birkett, 24, said: “I miss food so much.

Jessica Newman pictured in May 2018 at the Princes Grace Hospital (Credit: Jessica Newman/SWNS)

“Even when I’m not hungry I just crave nice food. I miss eating more than anything.

“It’s been really hard for me but the longer I go without food the easier it becomes, but I always crave food.

“It’s hardest when people are eating around me. When Steve sits down for meals I look at it longingly but I know I can’t have it.

“But I don’t want people to feel bad when they have food around me.

Jessica Newman pictured in early 2018 following surgery at Princes Grace Hospital (Credit: Jessica Newman/SWNS)

“I’m fine with it but it has been hard for people to adjust.

“I miss chocolate more than anything. I have a sweet tooth.

“The last meal I can remember keeping down was a chicken katsu curry. It was absolutely incredible. Oh my god it was the best.”

British Institute of Modern Music student Jess lost nearly two stone (11kg) in four weeks, and she was seen by a specialist consultant at The Princess Grace Hospital, in London.

Jessica Newman pictured her skinniest in October 2017 (Credit: Jessica Newman/SWNS)

Jess said: “I just couldn’t keep any food down and it started to get serious. People started asking if I had an eating disorder but I knew I didn’t.

“My consultant in London saved me life for sure. I was admitted for scans where they looked at the arteries in my stomach.”

Jess, who went from 9st 7lbs down to 7st 7lbs, was diagnosed with four different types of vascular compression syndromes that restrict her intestinal function.

The potentially fatal condition leaves sufferers at serious risk of starvation and causes arteries in the stomach to compress and pinch the walls of the intestine.

She was forced to haul a heavy rucksack around with her every day that contained one litre of 1500 calorie food replacement and nutritional fluids.

This “semi-digested” liquid was easy for Jess’ stomach to break down and was crucial in keeping Jess from starving to death.

Vocalist, Jess, had to live with carrying the backpack around with her wherever she went until August this year, where the burden of it became too much to take.

Jess said: “It was so difficult to carry with me all day. I never really tolerated it well.

“Everything I did, I had to have it with me and I was very weak because I wasn’t eating.

“I was struggling so much and it started to get painful.”

Doctors decided to admit her to hospital in July and perform a major procedure to install a total parental nutrition implant in her heart.

She spent around six weeks in hospital as her body adapted to the new way of absorbing food, before being discharged at the end of August.

She’s fed 1,500 calories of nutritional fluids overnight via an intravenous line from a machine to her heart.

She said: “ I still have a tube that people can see but it doesn’t bother me at all.

“The bag was uncomfortable and this is a lot easier. I’m just grateful that I have a way of getting the nutrition that I need.

“I could have died.”

Doctors are hoping to operate in December so she can eat solid food again.

And Jess has set her sights on being able to sit down with her family to eat a traditional Christmas dinner.

“That would be a dream come true”, said Jess.

She added: “If it is Christmas when I can eat again my first meal to be a whole bowl of pigs in blanket to myself.

“But at this point, anything sounds good. I just miss everything.

“Obviously one day I do hope to be back to normal.

“But this hasn’t stopped me from living a normal life.

“For now my main goal is to be able to eat again without feeding tubes.

“If it does happen it will be the best day of my life.”