A FORMER athlete has told how obesity surgery transformed her life after her weight ballooned out of control after a car crash.
Mother-of-three Debbie Cressey became one of the first patients to undergo what doctors call bariatric surgery to deal with her weight. The procedure was performed at Doncaster Royal Infirmary for the first time in May 2010.
Concerns were raised about spending by NHS Doncaster on obesity surgery but Debbie defended the operations. Her weight is down from 23.5 stone to 16st and is still falling.
Debbie, aged 45, from Hexthorpe, Doncaster, was a nurse and a hammer thrower with Doncaster Athletics Club.
She coached youngsters until a car crash in 2004 left her seriously injured and in a wheelchair. She had to pack in coaching, piled on weight and developed type two diabetes.
She was given the go-ahead to have a gastric by-pass operation last year. That effectively made her stomach smaller.
She said: “I was diagnosed with diabetes and that was getting worse. For that reason alone I felt I had to do it.
“My legs were in pain both because of the crash and because of the weight. I had always been a bit on the big side but not morbidly obese like I was after the crash.
“I had three kids, went to the gym three times a week and coached athletics.
“I was losing weight when I had the accident and that was the catalyst. I couldn’t get exercise. It took three-and-a-half years for my thigh bone to heal because of complications. The pain is better now but I still need pain relief.
“It is definitely not an easy option. The fatality rate for gastric bypass is around one in 100 people. That is short odds, so you are aware that there is a chance you won’t even get up off the operating table.”
It limited how much alcohol she could drink. Certain foods like overcooked pasta and white bread now make her sick.
But she said it was saving the NHS money compared to the cost of treating her diabetes, which is in remission.
Debbie’s dress size fell from 32 to 16: “It has changed my life. I am so much more confident now. ”
Operations started in Doncaster last year because the main centre in Sheffield could no longer cope with the rising number of patients.
* Debbie has set up a support group for people who have been through the same surgery, or who are thinking about it. Contact the support group on 07766 070570.