A MUM has hailed a new hospital weight-loss service as a huge success after shedding more than five stones.
Pamela Herron, 36, was the first patient to have a gastric bypass at the University Hospital of Hartlepool back in March.
Since then, she has lost five and a half stones – more than 55 per cent of her excess body weight – and now weighs in at just over 13 stones.
Mum-of-four Pamela, who works in her local community centre in Fishburn, near Trimdon, at an after-school club and volunteers every week at a theatre group, said: “I had made an appointment to my GP because I’d been suffering with pain in my knees.
“It was then that he told me about the new service which was being offered at my local NHS trust. I was interested to find out more and so I was referred to the team of specialists.”
Bariatric specialist nurse Sara Close said: “There are certain criteria which the patients must meet to be able to have the gastric bypass.
“Patients need a body mass index (BMI) of over 35. Pamela’s body mass index was 46.7 and has since reduced to 34. People have to show they are committed. They have to lose 10 per cent of their excess body weight before surgery.
“Fourteen days before the surgery patients are put on a very strict diet, which is low in carbohydrates, fat and sugar, to be able to shrink the liver, so that the operation can be done by keyhole.
“Our specialist dietitian Karen Haritou works with the patients right from the start and after surgery.
“After surgery, patients may need to take vitamin and mineral supplementation including, calcium, multivitamins and B12 injections to make sure they get the nutrients they need.
“It’s a lot for the patients to prepare for and a lot for them to deal with after surgery. It makes a huge change to a person’s life.
“That’s why there is a specialist team, including a psychologist to help and provide the right support for our patients.”
Pamela, who dropped from a dress size 24 to a 16, added: “I was tired of watching my four sons enjoying themselves and always being the one to sit back and watch.
“I would get breathless very easy. Everyday tasks that you would normally take for granted became difficult.
“I was struggling with my weight and wanted to do something to improve my lifestyle.
“I received a letter a couple of weeks later inviting me to the seminar, where I met the staff and found out everything I needed to know about the surgery and how I would need to prepare.
“Surgery isn’t an easy way out. You need to be mentally prepared and in the right frame of mind.
“My life has changed completely. I have gained an enormous amount of confidence and now I’m excited about having a happy and healthy future.”
Consultant surgeon Bussa Gopinath said: “Pamela has done really well to lose the weight. This shows how committed and determined she has been to modify her diet and lifestyle.
“The gastric bypass surgery which Pamela has had is, in the majority of cases, done using keyhole techniques and helps to significantly reduce health risks commonly associated with being overweight.”