Local boy raises awareness about rare disease

July 23, 2010 4:00:44 PM PDT
Imagine not being able to eat pizza, ice cream or even an apple. That's how one local boy lives. He is allergic to most foods and is now raising awareness and research money to help find a cure for the disease that affects him everyday.

Brendan Dixon, 7, of Ardmore, Pennsylvania is a huge sports fan, both playing and watching almost every sport. And while he is not shy talking about sports, he is shy about the disease that affects him everyday.

"It's very upsetting and I feel so bad for him and I don't know why he got it," he mother Jenn Dixon said. She found out when he was a baby that he was allergic to most foods including fruit, vegetables, wheat, soy, and peanuts. In fact, "the only safe food he's eating right now is pork," Dixon said.

Brendan only eats pork roll, bacon and pork sausage. He also has a feeding tube. He has a disease called Eosinophilic Esophagitis, or E.E. It causes inflammation in the esophagus and certain foods can lead to severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and in Brendan's case even hives, swollen lips and breathing problems.

Dixon said Brendan never leaves home without his backpack carrying two inhalers and an epi-pen in case he has a reaction.

Brendan's doctor at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia said his case is severe and the disease is rare... But over the years has become much more prevalent. "There's definitely an increase in the amount of children we have with this condition. From two cases all the way up to 35 cases in 2003 close to over 100 new patients a year," she said.

And while a few kids may outgrow the allergies, most are stuck with it. Brendan has begun working with his mom, hosting fundraisers to help find a cure so that one day he may be able to live like his friends and siblings do.

"You know, go out and get an ice cream cone, something like that will be wonderful," his mother said.

The family will be holding more fundraisers this summer. All the money they raise will go to two non-profit organizations that support E.E. research. In the meantime, anyone can make donations in honor of Brendan Dixon at www.curedfoundation.org or www.apfed.org