India hospital builds new unit to operate on ‘500kg’ Egyptian woman

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(BBC) An Indian hospital is building a special facility so that an Egyptian woman, believed to be the world’s heaviest at 500kg (1,102lb), can soon undergo weight reduction surgery.

Eman’s family says she has been stuck at home for 25 years (Image Courtesy: Dr Muffazal Lakdawala)

The facility at Mumbai’s Saifee Hospital will have an operating theatre and an intensive care unit.

Eman Ahmed Abd El Aty, 36, is expected to arrive in the city on a chartered plane at the end of January.

Her family says she has not been able to leave home for 25 years.

The estimate of her weight is given by relatives.

If confirmed, she would be the world’s heaviest woman alive as the current Guinness record holder is Pauline Potter of the United States who weighed 292kg (643lb) in 2010.

Ms Abd El Aty will be treated by a team of doctors led by well-known bariatric surgeon, Dr Muffazal Lakdawala.

As the patient cannot use a regular commercial flight, she will be flown to Mumbai on a chartered cargo plane along with her sister who is her main carer, a doctor at the hospital told the BBC’s Geeta Pandey.

She will first need to bring her weight down before an operation can be performed.

Ms Abd El Aty suffers from thyroid and cardiac issues and will need to remain at the hospital for at least six months, the doctor said.

Reports say the 278 sq metre (3,000 sq ft) new facility is estimated to cost 20m rupees ($293,762; £239,253) and will be ready by the end of the month.

Ms Abd El Aty’s family says she weighed 5kg (11lb) at birth and was diagnosed with elephantiasis, a condition in which body parts swell due to a parasitic infection.

By the time she was 11, her weight had risen sharply and she suffered a stroke which left her bedridden. Her mother and sister care for her.

However, Dr Lakdawala told the BBC last month that he believes Ms Abd El Aty does not have elephantiasis but suffers from obesity-related lymphoedema which causes gigantic swelling of legs.

Dr Lakdawala’s patients have previously included Indian ministers Nitin Gadkari and Venkaiah Naidu, who underwent weight reduction surgery.

The Indian embassy in Cairo had initially denied Ms Abd El Aty’s visa request as she was unable to travel there in person.

She was issued a visa after Dr Lakdawala tweeted to India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj who responded with an offer of help.

What is bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, is used as a last resort to treat people who are dangerously obese and carrying an excessive amount of body fat.

In the UK, this type of surgery is available on the National Health Service only to treat people with potentially life-threatening obesity when other treatments have not worked.

Around 8,000 people a year in the UK currently receive the treatment.

The two most common types of weight loss surgery are:

  • Gastric band, where a band is used to reduce the size of the stomach so a smaller amount of food is required to make someone feel full
  • Gastric bypass, where the digestive system is re-routed past most of the stomach so less food is digested to make someone feel full

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