Mysterious illness stops little girl from eating food

Family searches for cure for 4-year-old Pembroke Pines girl

By Kristi Krueger - Anchor/Health Reporter

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - Dressed up as Little Red Riding Hood, Mackenzie Nelson went door to door last week asking for treats she wouldn't be able to eat.

Mackenzie, 4, has a mysterious illness. Even the smallest bite of any food makes her dangerously ill.

"She starts violently vomiting," Ashley Nelson told Local 10 News. "Her eyes roll back. She'll get a fever. She sweats profusely from her head and her blood mimics a total body septis infection." 

So the only food Mackenzie touches is plastic.

She drinks pretend tea and mimics taking bites out of toy sweets.

Mackenzie has a great imagination, but her mother admits watching her daughter miss out on so much in real life fun is agonizing.

"The older she gets, the harder it is, because last year, she even asked Santa for food for Christmas," Nelson said. "For her birthday party, we have a food-free party, but I made her a little cupcake out of ice, but she cried because  she wanted a real cake." 

The preschooler eats from a feeding tube in her stomach, which she decorates.

It takes a special formula to keep Mackenzie alive, as doctors perform tests looking for answer.

Her parents have boxes packed with Mackenzie's medical records, but so far no one can explain why her body treats food like poison.

"So they all finally said, the (Undiagnosed Diseases Network) is where you go when no one can diagnose you, so we applied," Nelson said. "Her doctors tried to help use to get in, and we get a letter back saying that they won't accept her. They didn't think they could help, so we don't know where to go."

She is hoping the organization will reconsider, or that someone reading this article will be able to help.

Dr. Alexandra Eidelwein, a pediatric gastroenterologist with Broward Health, said severe food allergies can be difficult to understand and treat.

"I think maybe it's time for this child to be evaluated by a different physician, or to look fresh and review all the data and try to figure if there's something missing," Eidelwein said.

That's what the family is hoping for, and Nelson said she won't stop fighting for her little girl.

"I'm hoping that she'll be a miracle and she'll grow out of it or grow out a part of it and not have food affect her life as much as it does now," she said.

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