CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – A mother is in urgent need to supply formula for her 13-year-old son with a feeding tube.

Mayra Lopez’s son had cancer when he was three years old. He needed a feeding tube, or g-tube, after the cancer treatment severely affected his stomach and other organs. Lopez’s son is cancer-free but requires a formula for his g-tube and nutritional support.

22News spoke with Lopez on her son’s current condition, she explains that he doesn’t eat by mouth since the ingredients are broken down for his stomach. She says that these changes have been difficult for him.

Lopez’s son has had to switch to an infant formula due to the baby formula shortage. Lopez said, “The infant formula has been ok for now, it’s not giving him all the nutrition he needs, he is still on it and when I call his medical supply site they may have it or not. I’m calling every 7 days to see what they have.” Her son normally is to take Neocate Junior for the dietary management of cow milk allergy, multiple food allergies, and related GI conditions. The Neocate Junior was recalled along with other formulas.

Lopez reached out to the social media community looking for more Neocate Junior formulas to give her son but hasn’t been able to find any.

“The Neocate infant is used for babies under 1 year of age, once over 1 year of age they are transitioned to Neocate Junior which is more appropriate in nutrition content. The Neocate is a hyperallergic formula, intolerance to intact formula,” according to Dr. Sayej Wael, chief Pedi gastroenterologist of Baystate Children’s Hospital.

 “My son’s doctors called me right away and I was and still am worried and nervous about what this is going to do to my son’s weight. At the time he did not have an effect on the contaminated formula that we are aware of.”

Mayra Lopez

Wael discusses how he believes formula ingredients are supplemental to a child with a g-tube.

“For some babies and children, g-tube feeding is their lifeline now, that’s the only nutrition that they get or the main source of the nutrition. Some babies were born with developmental delays or brain mouth fermentations, and cerebral palsy, this is 100 percent their source of nutrition,” said Wael, “and other babies are born with intestinal affirmations who have short bowel syndrome or parts of their intestines taken out, and require nutrition from their g-tube as either their only source of nutrition or dominant source of nutrition. The formula gives them all the nutrition they need, the proteins, the fats, carbohydrates, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals; anything they need we calculate it to make sure we are receiving appropriate levels.”

Northampton Area Pediatrics Lactation consultant Kate Bohne added, “formulas are fairly highly developed products at this point,” she said, “they have protein which usually contains cow milk protein, they have some sugars, a lot of them.”

Wael mentions how there are different formulas for different age groups. “we have infant formulas, we have formulas for toddlers, and young children, and we have formulas for adults. The measure for manufacturing companies has different classes of formulas based on age and also based on need. So different specialized formulas are depending on the medical condition that we are treating,” he said.

When the FDA plans to restock to ease the shortage, Mayra hopes stores will allow her to buy multiple supplies at once to help keep her son’s weight back up. 

Bohne shares how to choose the right formula for their child when more supply becomes available, “depends on the circumstance, use a formula that is made for supplementation purposes, sometimes we help families understand that if their child is having a little trouble with the formula what they can use instead of that. For either being sensitive to the cow’s milk protein, we also provide some solutions for that.”

Mayra shares why formula shortage could be a continuous issue, even if they have temporary fixes. “I do believe that it will be a continuous issue, because if this problem is resolved then you have the issue of keeping up with so many orders for the US.”

Mayra’s advice for parents is to keep fighting and to always be in contact with their pedestrians to see what other ways they can help.