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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Man weighing 280kg offered new lease of life after Abu Dhabi surgery

Marwan Al Suwaidi had not left his home in five years due to his weight and feared asking for medical help until he saw others prosper after surgery. 

Marwan Al Suwaidi, pictured with Dr Ayman Soliman, has already lost 10kg since surgery and hopes to get his weight down to 80kg in the future. Christopher Pike / The National
Marwan Al Suwaidi, pictured with Dr Ayman Soliman, has already lost 10kg since surgery and hopes to get his weight down to 80kg in the future. Christopher Pike / The National

Too big to leave his home and too scared to seek medical advice, Emirati Marwan Al Suwaidi’s weight ballooned to more than 280kg before publicity of other morbidly obese patients encouraged his cry for help.

He was the latest patient through the doors of NMC Royal Hospital in Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi, a clinic specialising in obese patients and bariatric surgical procedures.

Doctors there say he is the largest person they have treated but hope his case will encourage more people who risk ending their lives early through overeating and a sedentary lifestyle to change their ways.

Read more: Mental health a factor to consider with obese patients, study finds

Mr Al Suwaidi, 32, had not left his home on the family farm in Al Rahba for five years, and could barely walk a few steps without feeling exhausted as he hauled his huge frame to the bathroom.

“My mother is a very good cook, her food is delicious,” said Mr Al Suwaidi, who has six brothers and four sisters.

“I was eating huge quantities of food. Even at school, instead of having a simple cheese sandwich before school, I would eat a burger.

“My mother was worried about keeping me away from fast food when I was at school, so we were all fed well before we went.

“She thought we would not feel hungry but she was wrong and I was eating at school as well. There was no control over what I was eating.”

Aside from his weight problem, the unemployed Emirati said his health has been good, and he is not diabetic or has hypertension, despite also being a heavy smoker.

At 15, doctors said he had a hereditary glandular problem that resulted in his body piling on weight. Mr Al Suwaidi has two brothers who have the same condition but they work out regularly to keep the weight off.

His room in the family villa had to be modified so everything was in reach, worsening his condition as he continued to eat, and his sedentary lifestyle continued.

Doctors hope the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and sleeve ileal bypass, a two-hour surgery completed last week, will help him eventually shed 200kg.

In the days after the operation, he has lost 10kg, and is expected to lose a further 90kg over the next six months.

The sleeve gastrectomy procedure removes about two thirds of the stomach, helping decrease appetite and provide a quicker sense of fullness. A smaller stomach sleeve restricts food intake by allowing only a small amount of food to be consumed in a single sitting.

“When my little brother was 17, I told him to be very careful and warned him about getting to the weight I am,” Mr Al Suwaidi said.

“He was 180kg and had a gastric sleeve operation and he now weighs just 80kg and is on a police training programme.

“I was scared of the risk of surgery in the UAE but now I want to meet a woman and get married. I want to live a normal life, and to travel with my friends. This operation gives me hope.”

Doctors said Mr Al Suwaidi is the product of a fast-food culture and is not alone in opting for surgery over lifestyle changes.

Dr Ayman Soliman, 46, head of general surgery at NMC Royal Hospital, said: “We have many patients who we see for bariatric surgery who have a BMI greater than 40. Marwan’s index is 110.

“We have given him a full care plan that will consider his diet and mobility, with some physiotherapy, and he will also see an endocrinologist.”

Read more: Increasing numbers of people opting for bariatric surgery alarms Abu Dhabi doctors

He is expected to lose 20kg in the first month post-surgery, and about 60 per cent of his excess weight in the next 6 to 9 months. In that time he is expected to lose 120kg, with a long-term goal of reducing his weight to about 80kg.

He has a weekly diet plan, and is consuming between 600 and 800 calories a day in liquid and soft food, but he must visit the hospital every week for a check-up.

“When he came in to us, Marwan weighed more than 280kg, so it was like he had an addiction to food and could not stop eating, even though he knew he was having this surgery,” Dr Soliman added.

"He was inspired by those patients whose life had changed after an operation. He realised there is hope, and nothing is impossible."

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