Facebook bans photo of tube-fed girl
A BRITISH mother was left horrified when Facebook banned a photo of her smiling daughter because she was being fed by a tube.
Shai Winn, 9, has spent her entire life being fed by a tube after she was born with a rare condition.
She was born prematurely at 31 weeks with a "V-shaped pocket" at the back of her throat - known as laryngeal cleft.
The cleft meant that she had a hole between her voice box and food pipe - which means food or drink can pass into her airway.
Her mother, Lindsey Bidwill, 40, started a charity on Facebook to raise awareness about the condition.
But when she went to upload a photo of her daughter, smiling with her food tube, she was told by the international social media company that it was "shocking, sensational or excessively violent".
Ms Bidwill immediately appealed the decision - which was rectified within about 10 minutes, Facebook told The Sun.
"I was just shocked," Ms Bidwill said.
"Even if it was a robot (that removed the photo) it is just not on."
According to Ms Bidwill, she couldn't bring herself to tell Shai what had happened as "she would have been really upset".
"Some of the stuff on Facebook is absolutely shocking so I couldn't believe they didn't let me post a picture of my daughter," Ms Bidwill said.
Shai's condition is so rare, doctors have put her forward for genetic testing.
As well as her laryngeal cleft, Shai suffers from a host of other health problems that mean even brushing her teeth, going swimming and drinking water could prove fatal.
She suffers aspiration pneumonia, where you inhale food, stomach acid or saliva into the lungs, as well as oesophageal dysmobility, a spasm-type pain when swallowing, and gastroparesis or stomach paralysis.
Shai spends 17-hours a day hooked up to a machine which feeds her.
This feeding tube can interfere with Shai's schooling and means she can't have sleepovers at her friends' houses.
Shai also can't go out with her school friends at lunch and has to spend her time playing inside on a laptop.
Ms Bidwell said her daughter had been "really down lately".
"She's got one friend called Finley who also gets fed by a tube and they're really a lifeline for each other,
"She said 'Mummy I only feel normal when I'm with Finley'."
Shai is having a surgery later this year to try and fix her laryngeal cleft, but even if the risky operation goes well, she'll still need to be fed by tube.
The rest of Shai's family sometimes struggle with the demands of caring for her, but they are all very protective of her and "worship the ground she walks on".
Her two older brothers, Reef and Samuel, and her older sister, Elaine, all pitch in to look after Shai but their mother says it sometimes means they miss out on family outings.
Ms Bidwell's husband, Richard, also finds it hard that he has to work to pay the bills but misses out on spending time with Shai.
She said: "Shai wanted Daddy to come with her to hospital,
"My husband has to pay the bills and it's hard because she wants Daddy to be there but he can't."
Lindsey now works part time for Little Urchins Photography and Richard is a self-employed carpenter.
A website, dedicated to raising money for Shai's' treatment known as 'Shai's Smile' has raised $36,700, which Ms Bidwell plans to put toward a party for other "tubies" - the term used for people who are fed by tube.
Lindsey says the "tubie world" is a lonely one and she wants to create a party which doesn't revolve around food to let the children connect.
A Facebook spokesman told The Sun: "Shai's picture was reinstated within less than ten minutes of Ms Bidwill reporting it to us.
"We know how important it is for families like Shai's to raise awareness of causes that are close to their hearts on Facebook and we wish Shai and her family all the very best with their fundraising efforts."
This story originally appeared in The Sun and has been republished here with permission.