At 310 kg, UK-based Zachary Smith was the heaviest patient operated upon so far by city-based laparoscopic surgeon Dr Shashank Shah and his team of experts. Four years after the surgery, Smith flew down to Pune this month with a lean 115-kg built much to the amazement of surgeons here.
Smith is excited to have lost so much of weight, and now wants to get married, says Dr Shah, laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon at Laparo-Obeso Centre, Pune, and president of the Obesity Surgery Society of India.
At 35, Smith was a classic case of super obese patients who end up showing comorbid conditions at an early age. “Smith used to suffer from heaviness in abdomen, severe backache, hypertension and sleep apnea. His body mass index (BMI) was 80,” says Shah.
Smith initially lost 20 kg after the surgery at Ruby Hall Clinic and eventually reduced 195 kg. All the while, he has been regularly corresponding with Shah via Skype and email. He wanted to show off his new shape to the doctors and landed in Pune earlier this month. “It was such a pleasant surprise,” says Shah.
“We did a sleeve gastrectomy and luckily Smith did not have major problems like diabetes and blood pressure. He followed a strict diet plan and a regular exercise regime,” says Shah who took on this challenge of operating upon his “heaviest patient” after several hospitals in the UK refused to do so due to the risks involved. A special OT table had to be made and a dedicated team of experts was roped in.
A sleeve gastrectomy involves removing the curvature of the stomach that secretes a hormone called ghrelin. This hunger hormone is also known to induce obesity and diabetes. “While the ghrelin secreting part of the stomach is removed, other functioning elements of the stomach are preserved,” explains Shah. So far, he has done 150 such surgeries on international patients and over 4,000 on Indians.
‘A new life’
A slow but steady weight gain literally crippled Dubai-based Munir Moosawi, 63, who was once a national football player. Weighing 200 kg, Moosawi’s movements were severely restricted and in the last four years small blood vessels in his legs had started leaking. Known as a patient with “crying legs”, this former soldier who had retired from the army in Saudi Arabia came all the way to Pune for a bariatric surgery.
For the first time in his life, he can now breathe easily. “What was extremely challenging about this surgery, unlike Zachary Smith’s, was Munir had complicated health problems. He had renal failure, diabetes, heart ailment and his oxygen level used to dip if he rested on the bed. A huge fatty liver and pancreas were pushing his diaphragm up, resulting in severe compression on his lungs. There was no purification of blood in the body and all these factors were adding a toxicity to his heart, which was forced to pump for a body beyond its capacity. All this excess fat led to small blood vessels leaking in his legs and these tears had to be collected in two big towels every day. We performed the surgery on March 20 and he has lost 44 kg already,” says Shah. When contacted, Munir said he had a “new life all over again”.