Two Brighton siblings are allergic to practically all food due to an inflammatory condition

Cells in esophagus treat food as dangerous invader

BRIGHTON, Mich. (WXYZ) - More and more children are dealing with food allergies these days, but a couple of kids in Brighton are dealing with a disorder which makes them allergic to practically every food.

Fourteen-month-old Bo and her 3-year-old big brother Elias have very different personalities.

“Elias is very gentle and mild-mannered, and Bo is very fierce and ferocious and goes for what she wants,” explained their mother Erin Bradley.

She and her husband Danny said there is one trait they wish the pair did not have in common.         

Both have been diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis or EoE.

It’s a condition where the body treats food as a dangerous invader.

"Some people who have EoE can eat lots of foods. They're allergic to only one food. Their body responds to only one food.  And on the other end some people with EoE can't eat any food at all.  So there are differing degrees of severity,” said Erin Bradley.

EoE is an inflammatory disease where a type of white blood cell builds up in the esophagus as a reaction to food allergies or possibly airborne allergens.

Symptoms include trouble swallowing, vomiting, abdominal pain, and food getting stuck in the esophagus.

The Bradleys said the only food that Elias and Bo can keep down is hypoallergenic infant formula and some organic baby foods.

When they try to eat food, the reactions are varied.

"It ranges from an anaphylactic deadly reaction to immediate vomiting.  And then there are sometimes more delayed reactions,” recalled Erin Bradley.

Danny Bradley said meal times are becoming more challenging.

"I don't want to give him some food that's going to hurt him. Here's my son asking me for a bite. 'Daddy, can I have a bite?' You know it's something I can't do. So I have to figure out other ways to distract him or get him on something else,” said Danny Bradley.

They're now starting to worry about their son's development.

Elias’ Mom said he's not thriving.  She said his delayed growth is especially apparent in pictures next to friends his own age.

"I think he's wearing 18-month clothing right now,” said Erin.  “And he’s 3,” added Danny Bradley.

The children are being treated at U of M, but their parents want to try a different treatment at a hospital in Cincinnati that has a center specializing in this disease.

"The most severe cases come to them. And that's, that's us," said Erin Bradley.

So at her request, doctors at U of M Health System wrote recommendations that the children get a second opinion at Cincinnati Children’s hospital. 

But the Bradley’s Medicaid insurance plan denied the referral to Cincinnati.  Instead, the insurance company asked them to get a second opinion at either Children's Hospital in Detroit or DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.

The two sides have so far agreed to disagree on a long list of points, and they're still in the appeal process now.

In the meantime, Elias and Bo are trying to be normal kids dealing with a disorder that has no cure.

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