Regret. Anger. Pain. Hunger.
The emotions and side effects experienced by some people from Northern Ireland who travelled abroad for weight loss surgery.
One woman described to UTV how two spoonfuls of chicken noodle soup left her in intensive care shortly after returning to Belfast from a gastric sleeve operation in Turkey.
Eating the soup ripped stables in her stomach after much of it was removed during Bariatric surgery.
We’ve called her Karen to protect her identity.
“Everything I was eating and drinking was going into my organs and not my stomach so I was actually poisoning myself. I had to have 8 hours of surgery to fix it.” Shannon Meenan Browse, 32, suffered an even worse fate. Unable to keep food down after her gastric sleeve procedure the mother of four slowly starved to death. She died from malnutrition last August in Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital 18 months after returning from Turkey. Shannon’s husband Don has given his first interview to UTV. He says they had desperately struggled to get help. “One time she went into A and E and they gave her a rehydration bag and a vitamin bag and sent her home. That was it.” There is little aftercare in Northern Ireland for patients suffering complications following surgery abroad. Shannon’s Dad Shane Meenan says he’s angry with the NHS. “They should have stepped in, even though she went abroad, it’s crazy how many doors shut in your face here. And why isn’t there a place open where young girls can go and ask advice first?" Surgery abroad is booked online or through agents based in Northern Ireland. Before and after videos on social media sites like TikTok fuel its popularity as a quick fix to getting thin. Caitlin Horrow weighed over 23 stones the day went under the knife in Istanbul.
She asked for at least 80% of her stomach to be cut away “I wanted the most extreme thing possible because I lost so much weight before and I’m terrified of gaining it again. But it probably was a mistake.” Despite suffering side effects not everybody UTV spoke to regretted their decision. But Kathryn Correy describes her postoperative pain as the most excruciating she has ever experience “I tell everybody it was like having my body severed in half and that was the ultimate regret. I thought, what have I done to myself?" Kathryn blames a lack of support in Northern Ireland for damaging eating behaviours and low self esteem for leading her down the route to Turkey.
Anyone considering Bariatric surgery is encouraged to do extensive research before committing to any procedures and to carefully consider all options.
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