A brave five-year-old girl is hoping pioneering treatment in the US will enable her to eat her first meal.
Bella Cole has a rare condition that means she has never even tasted chocolate.
But her family is raising £55,000 through crowdfunding and their own savings to take her to see experts in America.
A month-long programme will finally teach Bella how to eat after her illness left her vomiting up to five times a day.
Bella – now the same size as her two-year-old brother Teddy – was born with learning difficulties and developmental delays.
Mum Philippa, 33, said: “She kept sicking her milk back up and crying. Everyone said it was normal, but I knew something was wrong.”
Philippa and her partner Matthew, 36, took Bella to hospital where doctors said it was a severe form of acid reflux.
For the first year of her life she had to be fed through a tube in her nose and since then through a “button” in her tummy which goes straight to her bowel.
Philippa said: “She’s an incredible little girl of whom we are so proud. All the things we thought she wouldn’t be able to do she has. Doctors said that she might never be able to walk or talk, but she can do both.
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“Now she’s in a mainstream school with loads of friends.”
It is hoped Bella will spend a month at the Marcus Autism Centre, Atlanta, with physiotherapists, dietitians and behavioural experts to help her with her reflux and teach her how to eat.
Philippa, of Chelmsford, Essex, added: “We want her to experience all the things she hasn’t had chance to yet, like sweets in party bags or her first taste of chocolate. Just to see her being able to eat would mean the absolute world to us.”
To help Bella go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpbellalearntoeat
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