Teen's Rare Condition Causes Ham Sandwich To Tear Open His Esophagus

It is a nightmare that no parent would ever want to endure. A young, seemingly healthy teen boy was between soccer games one day and grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich from a Walmart.

Soon after biting into the sandwich he experienced horrific chest pain and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors found that the sandwich had ripped his esophagus.

He's been struggling in the hospital for more than three months now, still fighting for his life. Doctors have diagnosed him with a rare condition.

Alec Hebblethwaite was a seemingly healthly 14-year-old boy, but one day he ate a cracker at soccer practice and threw up blood. That was the first time he or his mom, Kasey Hunter, noticed anything was wrong.

The boy was rushed to the ER and doctors said that his esophagus was scratched by the hard cracker. They told Alec to eat soft food for a while and let the scratch heal, then sent him home.

No one thought it could be anything more serious.

A month later, when eating a ham and cheese sandwich from Walmart between soccer games, Alec was again rushed to the ER.

"At first I didn’t know anything was wrong at all – I just felt like I got a bit of the sandwich stuck in my throat," Alec reports. "But after that I found it really hard to get up and my throat hurt."

"I was in a lot of pain. I don’t remember most of my time in hospital but there was a time when I wasn’t able to walk, which was very scary."

He was in critical condition and experiencing chest pains. The doctors discovered that the boy's esophagus was ripped.

Alec was immediately rushed into surgery, but when doctors tried to fix his esophagus they found it was infected. For more than three months after that, the boy was in intensive care fighting off the infection and sepsis.

Doctors didn't believe he would make it.

"They said that if we had waited 12 more hours before taking him to the hospital he would have died," Hunter said. "We thought it was just chest pain he was complaining about but the doctors did a swallow study and found out there was a hole."

"The doctors said they had never seen it in a kid before. It was very scary."

Several months later, doctors finally were able to diagnose Alec with eosinophilic esophagitis. It's a rare condition brought on by white blood cells building up in the lining of the esophagus, mouth and stomach.

It can cause choking and tearing of the tissue.

Bread and any rough-textured food can cause the disease to flare up, expanding or irritating the esophagus. Alec has to stick to a diet of soft foods.

Hunter will never shake the horror she felt as Alec went through the ordeal.

"To stand there and look at your kid and there is nothing you can do for them… You just want to take it all away but you’re not able to. I had no idea that this could happen."

She said, "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that crackers and sandwiches would be able to do this."

"I knew things like this could happen but I didn’t ever think it would happen to me,” Alec said.

Source: Metro
Photo: SWNS

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