For 38-year-old Zeenath Khan, the International Women’s Day was like any other day, spent stressing over a crowd-funding initiative through which she hopes to fund her obesity surgery. The Aurangabad-based woman weighs over 148 kg and suffers from a genetic disorder that has led to the uncontrolled weight gain.
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Over the past two months, Khan has approached local corporators, MLAs and social organisations after doctors told her that bariatric surgery was the only option for her and would cost Rs 3 lakh in Mumbai. Her case is similar to Egyptian woman Eman Ahmed, who doctors suspect is victim of a genetic disorder. Ahmed is currently undergoing treatment in Mumbai through a massive crowd funding campaign. Khan has been able to raise only Rs 5,000 so far.
“I have lost my job because of my inability to move around,” the mother of two claims. Doctors believe she has inherited obesity as there is such medical history in her family. In the past four years, despite a healthy and controlled diet, Khan’s weight shot up, forcing her to remain home-bound most days. She suffers from breathlessness whenever she walks.
“I have constant joint pain and back pain. I can’t walk anymore because of my weight,” she says. When her weight did not decline after reducing food intake, Khan came to Mumbai to look for treatment. Before that, she had gone to several local doctors.
“What she needs is a sleeve gastrectomy. Her stomach size will reduce by 80 per cent and weight fall by 70 to 80 kg in a year,” said bariatric surgeon Ramen Goel, though he warned that after such surgeries, patients need to continue a high-protein diet and a daily vitamin intake.
Khan’s husband is a tailor and earns Rs 3,000 per month. The family is unable to save any money for her surgery. Khan was formerly a schoolteacher, but had to quit when she could not stand for long hours in class. A graduate in fashion designing, she later joined a garment factory in Osmanadabad as supervisor. “I left that job too as it required me to move around a lot,” she says.
Now spending her days at home, Khan has created a Facebook page to draw attention towards the surgery she needs.
“My daughters keep asking me when I will get thin and start moving around again. It is embarrassing,” she says. Her daughters, aged seven and nine years, have not inherited the genetic disorder. According to Goel, over 60 per cent of obesity cases are inherited, in which monogenic disorders are easy to identify clinically. In some genetic disorders, only medication can help reduce weight.