A man who has lost an incredible 29st in just 18 months after being told his weight was was risking his life has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for his excess skin to be removed.
- Video report by Charlotte Cross:
Eighteen months ago, Paul Stevenson was on the verge of any number of potentially fatal health problems.
He weighed in at 51st, had diabetes, repeated episodes of gout, and had been housebound for four years.
It all began when his mother Valerie died in 2000, sending him into a spiral of depression, anxiety, and comfort-eating.
He finally called his GP in April 2015 to plead for help.
“I couldn’t carry on like that - I knew I had to do something,” he said.
“I used to leave my key in my letterbox so my mates could let themselves in. I would have an anxiety attack just opening the door.
“When I saw the doctor, I was basically told that I was going to die if I didn’t start losing weight - and that I needed to do it quite quickly.”
He was given gastric sleeve surgery in May last year, reducing the size of his stomach to help him cut down on his intake, as well as stave off hunger pains.
He’s now cut down his 7,000 calorie-a-day diet to three small meals; swapping takeaways for chicken breasts and lettuce, and the two litres of regular Coca Cola he would drink for water.
He also goes to the gym six days a week.
But while his hard work has paid off - he’s now weighing in an just over 22st - he’s been left with an excess of loose skin.
The NHS has told him he doesn’t yet meet the criteria for an operation to remove the skin.
In a statement, the NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group said:
Paul says they’ve told him he would need to get below 15st - and when around 6st of his weight is in the skin, he argues that it’s nigh-on unattainable.
He’s now crowdfunding to pay for the operation privately, and has almost reached £2,000 already.
He says all he wants is to be able to focus on his future.
He also has the support of his surgeon at the Royal Derby Hospital, Sherif Awad, who said he believes the health service needs to stop thinking of this kind of surgery as cosmetic.
“As well as the functional benefits of being able to survive as a human being on a daily basis, medically there will be benefits of reducing the costs of dressings, recurrent consultations at the GP office, district nurses coming out, etc,” he said.
“So there are clinical benefits, as well as economic benefits, as well as functional benefits to patients in this sub-group.”