Nightly News   |  March 22, 2014

Texas Girl’s Obesity Battle Makes Unexpected Turn

Brain surgery caused 12-year-old Alexis Shapiro’s metabolism to become erratic two years ago. Now a procedure aims to give her a healthy weight.

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>>> we are back with the story of a 12-year-old girl from texas who is recovering tonight after surgery. the first step in dealing with a rare condition after brain surgery that left her always hungry and unable to control her weight. but that was only the first obstacle she would face. her story has captured worldwide attention and we get the very latest from nbc 's gabe gutierrez.

>> reporter: growing up near san antonio , alexis shapiro's smile used to be what most people noticed.

>> what we used to do as a family, everything changed.

>> reporter: but two and a half years ago she had a benign tumor removed, and it moderated her weight afterwards. her weight grew to more than 200 pounds, she is only 4'7".

>> she is always hungry, it is not her fault, it is her body and brain telling her she was starving.

>> doctors said she would put on two pounds a week unless she had surgery, but the insurance company denied it.

>> reporter: that drew worldwide attention, $84,000 was raised on line.

>> the support that we got has been amazing.

>> reporter: perhaps even more amazing, insurer tri-care then reserved its decision, telling nbc news the initial request had no information indicating that this patient had a rare disease .

>> i just really hope that this surgery will be a life changer for her.

>> reporter: so friday, in cincinnati, the 12-year-old was wheeled into the o.r. for the long-waited surgery, but less than an hour into the procedure, the unexpected happened. her liver was too large to continue as planned. they moved forward with staged approach, bypass at later date.

>> with this, what we do is we remove just about 80% of the stomach.

>> reporter: tonight, alexis is recovering in a pediatric icu, doctors will reassess whether she needs a full gastric bypass in six month.

>> hope has been the only thing that has gotten us through.

>> reporter: a new normal that her family hopes will bring back the life they once had. gabriel gutierrez, nbc news, atla