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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I was 34-stone at 16.. but gastric op saved my life

By Alison Smith-Squire

Malissa at 34 stone
34 STONE: Malissa in January 2008 with pal's baby.
Malissa at 14 stone
14 STONE: Malissa is now size 16 after her weight loss

Malissa Jones—the youngest person in the world to have a stomach bypass—tipped the scales at 34 STONE aged just 16 and was constantly gorging on chocolate, crisps and junk food, sometimes 10 Mar bars at once.

She ate a staggering 15,000 calories a day, 7½ times the recommended 2,000 cals for a girl her age.

She was so hooked on eating she’d even raid the freezer in the middle of the night and gobble down partially-thawed raw burgers.

In the end she was barely able to move. She needed oxygen to so she could breathe while sleeping and suffered the heart disease angina—usually associated with old people.

So at 17 she decided to have the bypass . . . even though it could have killed her. The risky op is normally banned on under-18s. She said last night: “Doctors warned me there was a strong risk I could die from the op. But I knew I had no choice. Without it I would have died anyway.”

Miraculously Malissa, of Selby, North Yorks, not only survived but lost more than half her weight in a year.

Now she is saving to have a private op—a full body lift and tuck—to remove one stone of excess sagging skin caused by her dramatic weight loss.

She said: “I’ve discovered a whole new world. I’m out every weekend clubbing. I’ve had a lot more boyfriends because I feel much more attractive and confident.”

Malissa’s eating problems started when she was just TWO—and spiralled out of control when she was seven.

Gastric op saved Britain's fattest teen, Malissa Jones

She explained: “My mum had a stillborn baby and with so much upset in the family, food was comforting. When I was seven my parents separated and I got fatter. I couldn’t fit into a school uniform or run around the playground.”

Her mum Dawn, 45, took her to their GP and locked the kitchen cup- boards—but Malissa still managed to steal food at home and buy Mars bars and Snickers with her pocket money.

At night she would secretly microwave frozen burgers and chicken nuggets for 30 secs—until they were just soft enough to chew—then eat them raw.

She said: “I was so ravenous I didn’t care. Other times I’d have 10 Mars bars in one go. I never felt sick.

Doctors warned me there was strong risk that I could die from the operation

“I only felt happy when I had food in my mouth. The longest I could go without eating was four hours. By then my body would be shaking like a drug addict’s.”

At her heaviest, 5ft 8in Malissa had a Body Mass Index of 72.4. The healthy range is 18.5 to 25. Her size 28 clothes were too tight, and she was a stone heavier than Britain’s previously known fattest teenager, 33-stone Georgia Davis, 15, of Aberdare, South Wales—now at a fat camp in the US.

Malissa, now 18 and the oldest of four children, said: “My life was a nightmare. I was constantly teased at school, and was in and out of hospital with kidney and chest infections. At 15, I collapsed with chest pains and was rushed to hospital with the first of three suspected heart attacks. I was diagnosed with angina.

“I also had sleep apnoea, where my weight pressed into my neck and cut off my breathing. And my body got so large I couldn’t get enough oxygen.

“I’d have bad asthma and spend most of the day stuck in a chair unable to move. At night I wore an oxygen mask to keep me alive.”

She was referred to an eating disorders team and saw counsellors and nutritionists—but nothing worked.

Mum Dawn said: “I knew Malissa was far too fat. But her eating habits proved impossible for anyone to control.”

Malissa’s dramatic wake-up call came when she was 17. She said: “Doctors told me my weight was crushing my internal organs. I was so ill I had only months to live and I might not see my 18th birthday.”

Her only hope was a bypass to drastically reduce the size of her stomach and restrict the amount she could eat. After the six-hour op she spent 36 hours in intensive care. But she pulled through—and a year later weighs 14 stone, is size 16 and eats 1,000 calories a day.

Her asthma has gone and she has a full-time job in business admin. Malissa said: “I’ve massive scars down my body where they had to slice through so much flesh to get to my stomach.

“But my confidence has soared —and most of all I enjoy going out and looking normal.”

Original here

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