Constantly hungry boy succumbs to rare condition

Caden Benjamin, who suffered from Prader-Willi syndrome passed away at the Steve Biko hospital.
Caden Benjamin, who suffered from Prader-Willi syndrome passed away at the Steve Biko hospital.

A morbidly obese Mpumalanga boy whose rare condition kept him constantly hungry died at the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria on Thursday.

Caden Benjamin‚ 11‚ dreamed of having a normal childhood and playing with friends who overlooked his medical condition‚ and of one day driving a fast car.

However‚ he spent the last year hooked to an oxygen tank and on medication. He had to visit a physiotherapist regularly just to help him breath.

Caden suffered from Prader-Willi syndrome‚ a genetic disorder caused by a missing chromosome.

One of the symptoms is constant hunger‚ as his brain was not able to register that he was full after eating.

At age 10‚ the boy weighed 90kg. Obesity led to him having a major respiratory condition‚ an enlarged heart‚ diabetes‚ depression‚ cellulitis and a weak body due to inactivity. He wasn't able to attend school.

Gila Sacks‚ who met Caden's mother Zola Benjamin via Facebook‚ last year started a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy to raise funds for his care.

At the time‚ Zola had left her job to take care of her son. She did not have funds for Caden's medication or his three hospital visits every month.

Sacks on Wednesday said that Zola was devastated after losing her only child.

"Caden was her whole life. Although she knew his chances of recovery were slim‚ she is still devastated‚" she said.

"She wants him to be remembered for the sweet‚ brave boy that he was."

Caden loved playing with Lego building blocks. Two days before his death‚ a box of new Lego blocks‚ purchased with a small portion of the funds from the BackaBuddy campaign‚ was delivered to his home.

"I don’t think he even got to play with those Legos‚" said Sacks.

Following Caden's death‚ Sacks said the crowdfunding campaign on the BackaBuddy platform had been extended to raise funds for his funeral‚ which is scheduled for Saturday.

"I hope we can help his single mother to give Caden the funeral that he deserves‚" said Sacks.

"Caden and his mother were never separated. Friday night was her first night without him. I would like her not to stress about finances during the immense grieving process."