A TEENAGER who has been left emaciated as a result of a rare stomach problem that causes her to throw up more than 30 times a day says she feels "abandoned" by doctors.

Caitlin White, who is 5ft 5 but weighs less than six stone, said she has been "left to die" by Ninewells Hospital in Dundee after medics discharged her and refused to offer any further treatment following a string of failed attempts to insert feeding tubes between 2014 and 2015, including one which left her fighting the potentially deadly blood infection septicaemia.

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Ms White, who lives with her grandparents in Perth, survives on soup, gels and powders but struggles to absorb sufficient calories and suffers excruciating abdominal pain as a result of gastroparesis, a condition which means her stomach is partially paralysed.

It has led her to develop cyclical vomiting syndrome, meaning she is often sick more than 30 times a day, and she is so weak she needs a wheelchair outdoors.

HeraldScotland: Caitlin WhiteCaitlin White

The 19-year-old now spends eight to nine hours a day at Perth Royal Infirmary (PRI) receiving infusions of potassium, magnesium, iron and phosphate to keep her alive, but the hospital does not have the specialist expertise to prescribe artificial feeding.

Extreme constipation - six to seven weeks can elapse between bowel movements - has also led to a build up of bacteria in her small intestine that has ravaged her immune system. Since October last year, she has suffered five bouts of sepsis.

Ms White said: "It's getting to the point I've become resistant to so many antibiotics that they don't know what they're going to do when it flares up again. I'm exhausted. I'm in a wheelchair.

"I have to eat and drink myself orally because Ninewells have refused to offer artificial nutrition since 2015 and my weight is dropping.

"PRI are very worried. We're at a stage where they said they don't think I'll be here in six months unless we get a proper care plan in place."

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The case has been pursued by Roseanna Cunningham, SNP MSP for Perthshire South, and raised with Health Secretary Shona Robison, whose constituency covers Ninewells, as well as NHS Scotland chief executive Paul Gray, Scotland's chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood, former NHS Tayside bosses Lesley McLay and Professor John Connell, and new chairman John Brown.

Ms White's ordeal began aged 15 when stomach pain and vomiting saw her weight drop from 10 to eight stone in just three months.

In August 2014 she was admitted to PRI after she started throwing up a black liquid. Doctors diagnosed stomach paresis and she was transferred to Ninewells where she spent the next 10 months.

Medics told her she would be fitted with a "stomach pacemaker", a device which artificially stimulates the stomach muscles with electrical impulses, but when she arrived at Ninewells gastroenterologists ruled it out as a last resort option and tried fitting her with feeding tubes instead.

Over the next 10 months, she had eight feeding tubes surgically inserted via her nose and four inserted via her abdomen which bypassed her gut to deliver feed direct to her bowel.

However, her constant vomiting and a condition called Ehlors Danloss syndrome, which means Ms White's muscles are abnormally slack, meant the tubes came loose - sometimes within hours of surgery.

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She also underwent Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), where protein, glucose and other nutrients are pumped directly into a patient's bloodstream, but this was axed when she developed septicaemia in March 2015.

When a fourth bid to feed her via an abdominal tube failed in June 2015, she said doctors at Ninewells "gave up".

She said: "They took the tube out and the consultant at the time said 'go home, try the oral route, we can't do anything else for you'. That was it.

"I asked numerous times about the stomach pacemaker but it was never mentioned again."

Her grandmother, Laura White, 68, said the family have been left despairing and "totally bewildered" at her treatment by Ninewells.

She said medical staff insinuated that Ms White had been pulling out her own feeding tubes, had an eating disorder and suggested her agonising stomach cramps were imaginary "phantom pains".

Her family have paid for numerous private consultants in Scotland and London to review the case, with one gastroenterology expert describing it as the worst case of gastro-paresis he had ever seen.

However, care plans, scans and tests recommended by the private medics have been refused by NHS Tayside. The family is now trying to raise £3000 through Justgiving to pay for recommended genetic tests.

Mrs White stressed that the care her granddaughter had received from PRI was "wonderful", but said the family are desperate for help to save her life.

She said: "Caitlin was 53 kilos [8st 4] when she went in and after 10 months she weighed 43 kilos [6st 10], but they discharged her and said 'go back to the oral route'. I said 'what's plan B?' but all I got was a blank stare. We've had meeting after meeting and Ninewells refuse to treat her now.

"They said she's had a serious infection from TPN, but what do they want her to do - just starve her to death? I can't understand why for the last three years they've allowed her to deteriorate into this state."

A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “Due to patient confidentiality we cannot comment on individual cases."