Manju Dharra, a 25-year-old Indian woman, hasn’t had a bite to eat since she was born. For the past two-and-a-half decades she has been surviving on a liquid diet consisting of milk, tea, buttermilk and water.
Manju is from a small town called Sonipat, located near India’s capital, New Delhi. She suffers from a rare condition called achalasia – a failure of smooth muscle fibers to relax. Because of this, the cardiac sphincter muscle (that closes the opening from the gullet to the stomach to prevent acid reflux) does not open at all. So food cannot pass into the stomach and the gullet is blocked. The result – violent vomiting if she ever tries to eat anything solid.
“If I eat something then I throw up and I feel very, very bad. Now I feel fear when I look at solid food,” said Manju. Her mother, Bhagwati Dharra, added: “She only takes fluids like milk, tea, water, and sometimes juice. Mostly she takes milk, tea, buttermilk, water. If she eats solid food, she faces the problem of vomiting suddenly.”