Gastric bypass surgery made us a family again

When Stephen Pollard of Spire Leeds Hospital performed a gastric bypass operation on Paul Manku, his patient weighed over 45 stone, and with a BMI of around 100 was one of the heaviest patients that Mr Pollard had operated on.

It all began with a car accident. Paul had always found weight control difficult, but when his legs were crushed between two cars in an accident in 1993, he was unable to do any sport for several months – a difficult adjustment for someone who had been very active and even played hockey at Northern Premier League level. He found that the weight was piling on.

This continued over the years, and, by the age of 40, he weighed 50 stone. Despite going to the gym and swimming fairly regularly, Paul was unable to make significant progress. His motivation was gradually ebbing away, and he was beginning to fear the more serious health problems that would inevitably occur as he got older. 

Unhealthy diet

In a typical day, Paul might consume a full cooked breakfast, a packet of biscuits mid-morning, fast food for lunch, crisps, fizzy drinks and snacks during the afternoon and a curry with several rounds of chapattis in the evening, accompanied by several lagers. All this added up to around 7,000 calories per day - almost three times the daily recommended amount for a male adult.

Paul was self-conscious about his weight and, despite being naturally gregarious, would make excuses to avoid social situations such as work dinners and outings to the cinema, or parents’ evenings. He felt his children were ashamed of him, and they were subjected to taunts about their father’s size by other children.

As a senior manager with a property development company, having previously managed his own businesses, Paul had developed a lifestyle that revolved around food and work, to the exclusion of his wife, parents, and two young children, with whom he would spend little time. Unable to keep up with his children’s active lifestyles due to carrying so much weight, Paul felt he was missing out on their childhoods.

In spite of their private worries for his health, Paul’s family would avoid bringing up the subject of weight loss so as not to upset him, which further strained life at home.

By 2007, the excessive fat on Paul’s legs began to make walking difficult. He accordingly went to consult a plastic surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital to see if the fat could be removed. The surgeon would only agree to operate if Paul lost weight and recommended that he see Stephen Pollard, the hospital’s specialist gastric bypass surgeon.

 Too heavy for a gastric band

This advice helped Paul decide to take radical action and tackle his weight problem once and for all. He searched for information on the internet regarding the gastric bypass procedure and made an appointment to see Mr Pollard. He was too heavy for a gastric band.

Already aware of the surgeon’s credentials as one of the best specialists in the country, Paul felt that he and Mr Pollard “hit if off” straight away when they met, and was reassured that the surgeon was the best man for the job.

Paul felt ready for the surgery straight away and he opted for private treatment since at that time the waiting list for obesity surgery was closed in Leeds due to overwhelming capacity problems.

Two hour procedure

On 4th September 2007, Paul had an open gastric bypass, which took just over 2 hours.  Afterwards, he was moved to the high dependence unit, a normal part of the procedure. All in all, he spent five days in hospital, and although the wounds were uncomfortable afterwards, he didn’t suffer any complications.

After four weeks, Paul was able to return to work, although his energy levels were depleted. Within four months of the operation, however, he felt fully back to normal, and the weight was dropping away.

Paul’s aftercare includes regular appointments with dietician Glenda Pollard. Likewise, he has received extensive post-operative support from Stephen Pollard, who can easily be contacted for information or advice. 

Ten months on, 16 stone off!

Ten months on from the operation, Paul has lost 16 stone and his life has totally changed. He can’t bring back the 10 years of his children’s lives that he missed out on, but he is making up for lost time. Paul now takes the children swimming and even does boxing training with them. His relationship with his wife has also improved significantly, and, in his own words, he feels they are a “proper family” now.

For Paul, the mental adjustment to his new lifestyle has been the hardest part of losing such a colossal amount of weight. The surgery means that he is forced to eat smaller portions, and certain foods, such as those high in sugar, fat and starch, make him feel unwell, all of which helps the weight to fall away.

However, he feels that it is important for anyone considering gastric bypass surgery to be determined to stick with the lifestyle changes including taking regular exercise. The operation, along with the extensive advice, support and encouragement provided by Stephen Pollard and his colleagues at Spire Leeds played a vital part in helping Paul to kick-start his weight-loss, but he is aware that he needs to remain motivated.

With this in mind, Paul fully expects to get down to below 20 stone, at which point he will have achieved his ultimate goal. 


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Gastric bypass surgery made us a family again
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