Every once in a while, though, Hebblethwaite exhibited one little quirk: he occasionally had problems eating. “He would choke on his food,” his mother told the Daily Mail. “But we always chalked it up to eating too fast or talking while he was eating. We never thought about it too much.”
But as it turned out it had nothing to do with how fast Hebblethwaite was eating: doctors diagnosed him with eosinophilic esophagitis, a condition that affects approximately one in 1,500 children, although the Mayo Clinic projects that it will become more common.
The condition creates an excess of white blood cells in the esophagus, which then causes the tissue to become inflamed. This makes it difficult to swallow food, which explained why Hebblethwaite had been prone to choking his whole life.