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  • Ashley X

    Ashley X had radical surgery at age 6 to stop her growing

    Her parents defend the treatment

    January 06, 2007




    SHE cannot walk or talk. She cannot keep her head up, roll over or sit up by herself. She is fed with a tube.

    Little Ashley is now 9, but she will forever remain 6 years old because of radical surgery.

    Ashley suffers from static encephalopathy, a severe brain impairment.


    Her parents worried that she would grow up and become too big to be cared for. So, they decided to keep her small.

    They got her doctors at the Seattle Children's Hospital to develop a treatment to stunt her growth three years ago. As a result of that treatment, Ashley will get older, but she will never grow up.

    Her case has stirred ethical debate in the medical community after her story was mentioned in the October issue of a paediatric journal.

    But it wasn't until New Year's Day that Ashley's parents told their side of the story. In a paper published in the journal, the doctors outlined the course of their radical treatment to keep her small.

    The Times reported that in 2004, when Ashley displayed early signs of puberty, her parents instructed doctors to remove her uterus, appendix and still-forming breasts, then give her high doses of oestrogen to stunt her growth.

    The treatment, known as 'growth attenuation', is expected to keep Ashley's height at about 1.3m and her weight at about 34kg for the rest of her life.

    Doctors expect her to have a normal lifespan. Had she not been given the treatment, doctors estimate, she would have grown into a woman of average height and weight - about 165cm and 56kg.


    ROBBED OF DIGNITY?

    Doctors and caregivers criticised the parents, saying that such treatment is a violation of a person's dignity.

    But the parents claim that their move was a humane one, allowing Ashley to get more care and attention.
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