Mum puts 11yo on controversial diet to save her life
A SARINA mother's world was turned upside down when she found out her daughter was living with a rare genetic condition.
But the diagnosis was a blessing in disguise, after years of failed treatments, stress and heartache.
Growing up with constant seizures, what mum Kerrie Odger thought was her daughter's epilepsy, turned out to be GLUT1.
The rare disorder stops a person absorbing glucose, effectively starving the brain of fuel.
The only known solution - the keto diet.
Highly criticised by some while loved by others, the controversial diet is the only thing that "cured" little Katie Paidley, her mum said.
Ms Odger said within two weeks of being on the diet, her 11-year-old daughter's seizures had almost completely stopped.
Within a couple of months, she said her daughter could go back to school full-time and within a year she was hitting milestones she had never reached before, like riding a bike.
The condition was diagnosed by Brisbane doctors in October 2018 after months of begging for Katie to be tested.
"We always thought Katie had epilepsy, but despite taking medication her seizures just kept getting worse," Ms Odger said.
"She would sleep half the day, and her seizures were constant and at times would completely paralyse her.
"We were told about GLUT1 from a friend and asked doctors to test for it but were told it was too rare a condition to be the problem.
"It was only after Katie was flown to Brisbane because she was so sick, that doctors finally did the test.
"Katie's results came back positive and within a week she was on the keto diet."
Ms Odger, who owns Beach Road Fitness in Sarina with her partner Dennis Paidley, is sharing her daughter's story to create awareness about GLUT1, and the positive effects of the keto diet.
Despite constant backlash the diet receives, she said it was the only thing that could save her daughter's life.
Katie's meals are now structured around high amounts of fats, protein, vegetables and small portions of fruit.
She can only eat 16g of carbs a day, less than a piece of bread, but her brain is finally receiving the fuel it needs to function normally.
"She was sleeping half the day, it was like she was a zombie," Ms Odger said.
"People see her now and they can't believe it is the same kid.
"I think some people are misinformed about the keto diet but it's like anything, if you follow it correctly it will work."
Many children with GLUT1 have such severe muscle wastage that they have to be in a wheelchair, but Katie is one of the lucky ones; swimming, running and even enjoying gymnastics.
Only 500 cases have been reported worldwide since the disorder was first identified in 1991.
Ms Odger encouraged parents to always trust their gut, even if doctors disagreed.
She said children with epilepsy often had incredible results on the keto diet and suggested trying it if medication was not working.