The Girl Who Couldn’t Eat

This story will melt your heart. A precious little girl whose medical condition prevented her from eating became a chef while she was waiting for a transplant.  Now she’s finally able to taste all of the wonderful gourmet food she’s been preparing for so long. To watch my full report click here. 

Matisse Reid was born with a medical condition called intestinal pseudo-obstruction that left her unable to eat. Real food was extremely painful and it was also life threatening so from birth, she had to be fed through an I-V.

Born in New Zealand, doctors told her mother her newborn would not live. “We were told to take her home to die when she was three months old .” Jodee Reid told me.  But she and her family didn’t give up.  They came to Pittsburgh hoping for a miracle.

And so their  journey began.  Five and a half years ago it brought them to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. It was only here, half a world away from everything they knew, that Matisse had a chance.

Dr George Mazariegos is the director of pediatric transplantation at Children’s.  He told me, “We’re thrilled that she was able to come here. We believe we have the best care worldwide for transplant. The intestinal transplant was developed here in Pittsburgh.”

In her fight for life, patiently waiting for an large and small intestine transplant, Matisse began a somewhat ironic hobby. Even though she couldn’t eat anything, she became a chef. And she was passionate.  She started a blog called Matisse’s Kitchen with recipes and photos and videos.  Satisfying tastebuds around the world, except her own.

Then the donated organs arrived on December 7, 2010. It was time to see if the surgery would save her life.

Not only did it save her, Matisse is thriving. And even better, she’s eating.

For the first time, Matisse was able to taste the gourmet food she’d been cooking for so many years.  She invited me over to her house to prepare a gourmet lunch for me. I stood with her in the kitchen as she expertly prepared cream sauce with mussels over pasta.

She told me she’s always known food was going to be “her thing” even though she couldn’t eat for so long.

Dr George Mazariegos said she’s an energetic inspiration, “I think her story will dramatically inspire people and children and families around the world. It inspires us daily.” he said.

She is now being weaned off medicine and is doing very well.  She’s also a contributing writer for Cooking Light Magazine in the kids’ section and stays busy testing and developing new recipes.

As she served up our lunch she tried to put into words how she felt. “You look at it and it looks really good but when you taste it, it tastes better. It tastes really good because you can.”  She took a deep breath and smiled then shoved a giant mouthful of what she’d been denied for so long.

Matisse enjoys life and food one big heaping spoonful at a time.

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