Eman Abd El Aty, who is being treated at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi and once weighed close to 500kg, was meant to see the Corniche on Wednesday but doctors had to postpone the trip
Former heaviest woman’s wait for fresh air continues but ‘progress is being made’
It has been 25 years since Eman Abd El Aty stepped outside to breathe natural air, away from the confines of her home or hospital ward.
Her ill health and weight of close to 500kg as a result of a genetic condition had confined her to the space within the four walls around her.
Almost four months on from when she arrived for rehabilitation at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, the Egyptian was due to be taken on a special trip to the Corniche by her medical team on Wednesday.
A combination of 40C heat, crowds celebrating the start of Eid – as well as a newly diagnosed heart condition – forced doctors into a rethink and the plans were postponed.
Doctors, however, insist she is on track to achieve her goal of reducing her weight to below 100kg, and is in line to begin phase two of her recovery plan.
“We were planning to take her onto the Corniche but were concerned for her because of the heat, and her condition,” said Dr Yassin El Shahat, consultant nephrologist and chief medical officer at Burjeel Hospital.
“It was not worth the risk. Eman has come so far already and her case has generated huge interest around the world. We are trying our best to respect her privacy.
“Eman has a big desire to go out and see the world, and look at Abu Dhabi. She has been inside for long enough but we have to be careful and not take risks.”
Publicity surrounding her case has been unprecedented, with doctors fielding calls and interview requests from around the world.
Doctors insist that is positive, as other morbidly obese patients now have the confidence to seek help dealing with their own weight-related health problems.
At NMC Hospital in Khalifa City, doctors saw 93 new patients in July in relation to bariatric surgery or obesity-related health conditions. The youngest was just 15.
“We have reduced Eman’s weight through conservative management and a strictly controlled diet,” Dr El Shahat added.
“Unfortunately, we have found a problem with her heart, which was not diagnosed when she was [receiving treatment] in India.
“We cannot do any further treatment until we have considered this and found out more.
“Eman is not strong enough to go through a surgery at the moment.”
Her care is being paid for and provided by VPS Healthcare, which hopes that once her recovery is complete, Eman will become an ambassador for delivering the anti-obesity message and to encourage others to live a healthier life.
A team of 20 doctor and specialists are planning for her second stage of treatment, which is likely to take three to four months.
It will involve liposuction and removal of redundant skin that should help her lose 45kg.
Eman has hardly moved in 25 years, so her joints and muscles have depleted. With daily physiotherapy and strengthening exercises, slowly she is beginning to recover her strength.
Doctors remain unsure if she will ever walk again but those at Burjeel are taking advice from American and Swiss specialists to do all they can to try and get Eman back on her feet.
“Until then we can put her in her chair and she can enjoy her life and be more independent,” added Dr El Shahat, who has since taken on a similar case with a patient weighing 300kg.
“Eman’s case is an example for parents to watch their children, check their weight and, if there is a problem – they must act before it is too late.”