A disorder on the esophagus has left this woman unable to eat any solid food all her life.
Ever heard of a person who lives off milk and water?
Well, you have now.
Meet Manju Dharra, a 26-year-old woman from India who cannot tolerate solid food and has lived off a liquid diet since birth. By liquid, we mean, milk, tea, and water. She consumes about four to five liters of milk per day.
Manju has a medical condition called achalasia, which is a disorder of the esophagus. The esophagus is a muscular tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach. At the end of the esophagus is a muscular ring called the lower esophageal sphincter, which relaxes when a person swallows. When a person has achalasia, nerves that control the said sphincter do not function properly. Ultimately, the sphincter fails to relax and remains constricted. Surgery is often required to correct this condition.
So what happens when Manju eats solid food?
“If I eat something then I throw up and I feel very, very bad. Now I feel fear when I look at solid food,” Manju says.
Bhagwati Dharra, Manju’s mother, says that she did not become concerned with Manju’s condition until she reached the age of two years. She tried to feed her daughter rice and bread but she would just end up being sick. Bhagwati first believed that her daughter is being a fussy eater, but then she realized later that her daughter might be ill. They took Manju to various doctors and tried several treatments but nothing helped improve her condition.
A pediatrician in Jaipur explained that Manju’s condition can be cured by surgery and advised the family that they need to consult a specialist. However, due to financial constraints, they are unable to afford to do either. Instead, they invested in a cow that will help provide Manju’s milk.
Manju is taller than an average Indian woman and appears healthy but in reality, she suffers from stomach pains. But despite this, she still manages to perform household chores. She is one of seven children – none of her six siblings suffer from achalasia.
Manju’s condition has greatly affected her quality of life. Hopefully, she can soon get the medical treatment that she undoubtedly needs.
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