Ipswich: Surgeon defends world’s fattest man operation

IPSWICH: A leading doctor who performed life-saving surgery on the world’s fattest man has defended the operation in advance of a TV documentary being shown tonight.

Paul Mason, classed as the world’s fattest man at his top weight of 70 stone, was followed by TV crews as he underwent major gastric bypass surgery in February last year.

Shaw Somers, consultant upper gut surgeon at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, started treating Mr Mason two years ago.

“The main difficulty was just physically dealing with his size,” said Mr Somers. “He was so heavy at that stage he couldn’t walk so he needed quite a significant amount of help to get from one place to another, or getting into a hospital bed. He understood it wasn’t going to be easy and this was part of a process to help him.”

Mr Mason lost just under 12st in the run-up to the operation, which involved a team of a dozen health professionals, to lessen the surgery’s high risk.

He has shed another 20st since the gastric bypass and now tips the scales at just under 40st. But Mr Mason, who lives in a specially-adapted bungalow in east Ipswich, hit the headlines last year as a storm erupted over whether he should have the �100,000-operation paid for by the NHS.

The 49-year-old had been bedridden for nearly a decade and relied on a team of carers – costing about �2,000 a week – to look after his every need.

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“I think it’s understandable that people have that kind of opinion,” added Mr Somers. “But the reality is that looking after these patients long-term is much more expensive than doing the surgery.

“The most important thing is that Paul is a human being and he deserves respect and privacy.

“He deserves care – he worked and paid his taxes and I think people forget it’s easy to judge when you don’t know the real reasons for people’s behaviour.”

Since having the surgery, Mr Mason has been seen out in the town and it appears he is on his way to leading the normal life he so desperately wants.

But tonight’s documentary will also show how his addiction to food has torn apart his family.

His sisters have reportedly refused to speak to him since their mother Janet lost her house after re-mortgaging it to fund his ever-growing food bills.

n Britain’s Fattest Man is on Channel 4 at 9.35pm.

n What do you think of the situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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