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Finally, a real meal

3 September, 2013

3 year old Netanel and Yotam were both born prematurely. Until not long ago they were both fed via a feeding tube. This year, after being weaned from feeding tubes, each boy will enjoy his first holiday meal with his family.

Staff members in Jerusalem's ALYN Hospital were excited to see Yotam and Netanel eating independently. Dr. Maurit Beeri, ALYN's Director General and Director of ALYN's Feeding Clinic, noted that "as premature babies, Netanel and Yotam lacked the physiological and neuro-behavioral maturity to develop eating skills. For 3 years they were fed via a tube placed directly into the stomach". Therapists from ALYN's Feeding Rehabilitation Center developed a group weaning plan. This plan is implemented in an inpatient setting over a number of weeks.

Special methods for teaching the children to feel, touch and investigate were developed by the staff. "We closely follow the child's eating process from the minute he arrives at the center", said Judy Belinder, Director of the Feeding Rehabilitation Center. "The first step is to learn to touch, and then try different sensations and finally the children eat independently and the feeding tubes can be removed. It's very rewarding to see".

Yotam's father Chaim Shweid said: "We were very pessimistic when we began the process. Yotam led us to believe nothing could convince him to eat by himself. After starting the plan we slowly began to see changes. Each small change was a major step for us". Netanel's father Shmuel said that "as soon as we started the plan not only did Netanel eat, he ate alot. We didn't expect this. He now eats by himself just like everyone else".

Published orginially in Israel Hayom, translated by Yuri Yalon.