Surgery Saved Mum from Dangerous Risk of Obesity; in Association with the NHS Gastric Bypass Surgery Saved Mum Heather Straughan's Life as Her Weight Spiralled out of Control. Here She Tells Health Reporter JANE PICKEN about Her Experience

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), March 3, 2008 | Go to article overview

Surgery Saved Mum from Dangerous Risk of Obesity; in Association with the NHS Gastric Bypass Surgery Saved Mum Heather Straughan's Life as Her Weight Spiralled out of Control. Here She Tells Health Reporter JANE PICKEN about Her Experience


Byline: JANE PICKEN

AT MORE than 29st and severely depressed, 40-year-old Heather Straughan had exhausted every way of bringing her weight into check.

But the slimming classes, fad diets and even having her jaw wired had failed to work.

When her weight forced her to quit her job as a care assistant and doctors told her she might not survive the next two years, Heather knew she needed a new approach to breaking the vicious cycle of depression and overeating.

After seeing gastric bypass surgery on TV, she decided to look into the procedure and eventually took the decision to go-ahead with the operation at a private hospital in Leeds.

Now, two years later, Heather, from Houghton-le- Spring, County Durham, is more than 13st lighter and credits the operation with saving her life.

"Within weeks I was starting to live again and even do things like walking the dogs," explained Heather, who has sons Bradley, 22, and Jabez, 11.

"Previously I'd been frightened to go out as people would laugh and stare.

"If I coughed while driving I'd hit the horn with my stomach.

"Only a fat person can know how it feels to live in an obese body.

"The surgery was the only thing that worked and for anybody in a similar situation to mine, they should know there is no need to suffer.

"I can't get the whole of my life back - but I am going to make the most of my future."

Obesity is a hot-topic in the UK at the moment and in January Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Parliament there were increasing numbers of people suffering from socalled lifestyle diseases.

He said: "On current trends nearly 60% of the UK population will be obese by 2050 - that is two out of three in the population defined as severely overweight.

"If we do not reverse this, millions of adults and children will inevitably face deteriorating health and a lower quality of life.

"Hundreds of thousands more will suffer diabetes and hypertension and thousands will die from cardiovascular disease, strokes and cancers."

Obesity is also known to reduce life expectancy, with obese people dying, on average, nine years earlier than a person of normal weight.

Up to 50,000 people die each year in the UK from the complications of obesity, including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Although there are plenty of eating programmes designed to help people lose weight, gastric bypass surgery is now a real option.

The procedure involves a surgeon using the upper part of the stomach to create a pouch, a section of the small intestine is bypassed and the remaining, shorter small intestine is connected to the pouch.

This means that food bypasses part of the digestive system and is less easily absorbed into the body.

The operation is carried out either as open or keyhole surgery and the procedure's popularity is growing, particularly after celebrities such as Sharon Osbourne and Roseanne Barr admitting to going under the knife to help their weight.

Heather's operation took place at the private Spire Leeds Hospital and consultant Stephen Pollard saw her through the process.

At the time Heather weighed 29st 10lb and now her weight has dropped to 16st 13lb.

The weight loss has come just in time, as before the operation Heather had been suffering with diabetesrelated complications and was given two years to live. …

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