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New lease of life for weight loss surgery husband and wife

David and Debra Brassell, husband and wife from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, have struggled with weight issues for most of their lives. After being referred to the Bariatric Service at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, they both decided to undergo weight loss surgery and have changed their lives for the better.

Forty seven year old Debra had always been overweight. She was just nine when she had her first GP appointment to discuss her weight. Tipping the scales at 20 stone, it was a holiday to the Dominican Republic in May 2011 which made Debra start thinking about weight loss surgery.

Debra explains: "While on holiday we got talking to another holiday maker who had recently had weight loss surgery and was very pleased with the results. It set me off thinking about my weight and I decided that I would go on a diet when we got back home and try and lose weight before going to Florida in the September. However, I was disappointed to discover that during our break in Florida I was actually heavier than when we had been away earlier that year.

"I'd been thinking about weight loss surgery so when we got home I said to David that I'd been considering looking into surgery and he actually said he'd been thinking the same thing." 

Husband David, 44, had gained weight gradually over the years and weighing in at 21 stone decided that he also needed to discuss the options with his GP.

Debra continues: "Around September last year we both went to see our GPs and I was referred straight away to the Bariatric Service while David was advised to try a course of medication first.

"The first step was to attend an educational seminar. This was held at Darlington Memorial Hospital and was a chance to meet the Bariatric Team and receive a lot of information about what was involved before the surgery, the different kinds of surgery as well as the risks and benefits.

"You really have to be committed to change, that's one of the main things the team talked to me about. Before the surgery I had to lose 5kg and you meet with a dietician to discuss the lifestyle changes you have to be prepared to make after the surgery as well.

"David came along to support me at the seminar but we both felt even more strongly after meeting the team and receiving all the information that surgery was the best option for both of us.

"I had a gastric bypass in November last year, in the lead up to the procedure I was a bag of nerves but Mr Samier, the consultant and Sheryl, the nurse specialist were extremely supportive and understanding."

"Since the operation I have lost 7 stone - and feel fantastic! I have gone from a size 26 to a 14 and I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever done. I feel like I have a new lease of life, I'm more positive about things, I've started doing exercise which I didn't do before - going to the gym swimming and circuits.

"It has been hard and you do have to be willing to make changes but being overweight was really taking a toll on me as a person, I was often ill and suffered from sleep apnoea. Now, I have so much energy and just really enjoy life. I believe having the surgery has prolonged my life. We didn't really have a life before we were just existing but now it is amazing, everything has changed and everything is so much easier - it's the simple things like being able to bend down to tie your shoe laces or being able to walk without having back pain which you really notice.   

"I can't thank the team at Darlington enough - they have become like family to us. They have been so friendly and supportive through our whole journey and continue to be now months after the surgery."

David underwent a gastric sleeve operation in January of this year and has already lost 8 stone going from a size 44 to 32 in only four months.

Debra and David's surgery was carried out by County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust specialist bariatric consultant, Mr Akeil Samier.

Mr Samier said: "It is very pleasing to hear the success stories of our patients and to see the difference the surgery has made to the quality of their lives. Debra was the first patient to undergo surgery at the hospitals so I am delighted to see how well she has done - talking to patients such as David and Debra and seeing the change in the lives, it is what makes my job worthwhile.

"There can be a misconception about weight loss surgery that it is the easy way out but as David and Debra know, patients need to work hard to achieve the weight loss results that they want but it does works and it does provides a long term solution.

"The educational seminar is a key part of the service. This is when we meet with patients and provide information about all the options, the risks and benefits and what commitment is needed from them. We explain the process step by step and cover the three different types of surgery we provide - gastric banding, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. All surgeries are done as key hole procedures so that the recovery time is much shorter.

"There is a strict criterion for patients to meet, they need to have a BMI of over 40, or over 35 in the presence of other medical risks such as high blood pressure. These patients will have tried everything beforehand and will have failed with conservative methods and they must be committed to the follow up and to changing their lifestyle and eating habits after the operation, just as Debra and David were and we wish them well for the future."

Mr Samier joined the Trust last September and together with Mr Andrew Gilliam launched the organisation's first weight loss surgery service.

The service has been commissioned by The North-East Specialist Commissioning Group collaboratively across three local health trusts - County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

 

Debra and David Before weight loss surgeryDebra and David together with old clothing before weight loss

Debra and David before                                 Debra and David after

Published: 23 May 2012

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