The girl who was anorexic at the age of 8
EXCLUSIVE AS MORE KIDS GET EATING DISORDER.. DONNA HID IN LAUNDRY TO AVOID MEALS
- 00:00, 28 SEP 2008
- Updated05:00, 10 FEB 2013
Little Dana became a walking skeleton after suffering from anorexia – at EIGHT.
She told her distraught parents she would rather DIE than eat.
And she even hid in a laundry basket at meal times to avoid having food.
Her mum Sandra, 48, said: "Dana came into the kitchen one day in September last year and announced she was giving up chocolate.
"It wasn’t a big deal. Then it was junk food altogether. I just thought it was a phase.
"I never thought for a moment it was anorexia – she was so young, and she’d had such a stable, loving background."
Yet before long Dana weighed just 3st – about 1st lighter than normal for her age. Sandra, who is from Newcastle, added: "One night when I called her for dinner, she was nowhere to be seen.
"We later found her cowering in a laundry basket, hiding because she didn’t want to eat.
"I can’t even begin to explain how all this felt. To hear your child say she doesn’t care if she dies is heartbreaking.
"I thought, ‘What is this creature that has taken over my child?’ I just wondered where my baby had gone."
Sandra and her toy shop owner husband Jamaal, 51, took Dana to hospital. No-one could explain why she had the illness.
But she refused food for 19 days and had to be fed by an IV drip. Even then she defiantly held her arm up for six hours to prevent the glucose entering her body. The desperate parents turned to Rhodes Farm, a specialist clinic in Mill Hill, London.
Dana tells a TV documentary: "I wanted to lose weight. I just stopped eating. At the moment, then, I wanted to die." Her mum said: "When she was admitted she was skin and bone. You could feel every bump up her spine. But the worst thing was the lack of expression in her eyes. She was so vacant. She was starving and tired.
"She cried non-stop. She told me a voice was telling her not to eat. She promised she would start eating and begged me not to leave her. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do." Dana began a 12-week course that included target weights and achievement rewards. Her parents knew their little girl had turned a corner when she phoned to say she’d had some chocolate. "It was so good to hear," said Sandra.
Dana is back with her parents, who now live in Kuwait, and happily eating as normal. Pizza and fried chicken are among her favourite meals.
She’s a healthy 4st 5lb.
Sandra said: "It’s such a blessing to have all our family sitting down for a meal again."
Eating disorders affect around 90,000 in the UK with the average age between 16 and 18. But the tally of anorexic kids is rising. Rhodes Farm treats about 10 under-10s a year, and had a girl patient aged six.
Clinic founder Dr Dee Dawson said: "We are seeing many more eight, nine and 10-year-olds. Their role models are all getting thinner and thinner, so what can we expect.
"When I opened Rhodes Farm there was no such thing as a size zero. Now, in their eyes, they can never be too thin."
‘I just stopped eating. At that moment, I wanted to die.’
Dana features in Dana: The 8-year-old Anorexic, C4, Thursday, 9pm.
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