x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Obese woman died after tummy tuck

A woman described as 'morbidly obese' died after operation that removed 23 kilograms of fat and her abdominal wall, a court heard today.

DUBAI // A woman described as morbidly obese died after a "tummy tuck" operation that removed 23 kilograms of fat and her abdominal wall, a court heard today.

MH, a 39-year-old Emirati mother of six, was said to be aware that her obesity made the cosmetic procedure - technically known as an abdominoplasty - risky, but decided to press ahead anyway. The procedure makes the abdomen more firm by removing excess skin and fat.

Her Brazilian plastic surgeon, the 39-year-old LO, and the anaesthetist ND, a 46-year-old from India, are facing charges in the Dubai Court of Misdemenours of causing her death in June 2010.

ND pleaded not guilty while LO failed to appear. LO has previously protested his innocence.

Following a five-hour operation on June 8, the woman complained of severe chest pain and shortness of breath and was taken into the intensive care unit. Despite what were described as "aggressive" resuscitation efforts, she was declared dead on the morning of the next day.

Court records said the patient was aware that her "morbid obesity" increased the risks of the operation, but she insisted on having the surgery.

The anaesthetist ND said he warned the surgeon LO against doing the operation but that he insisted. "I told him that only few doctors in the entire world carry out this procedure," said ND.

He said it was the first time he had been part of such an operation on a person as obese as MH. However, he added that "all the results of her tests to show if she was fit for the surgery came out good".

LO told prosecutors before the trial that he had carried out several similar procedures in the country.

He said the patient knew about him through a clinic held by his friend. He said MH complained to him about the difficulties her weight gave her. "She told me she couldn't move or walk easily and often needed the help of those around her," said LO.

MH's brother, an Armed Forces officer, said the family were given her corpse two days after her death, as the Bur Dubai Police Station had referred it for an autopsy.

A date for the next hearing is yet to be determined.

salamir@thenational.ae