Patrick Deuel – Gastric Bypass

half ton man
Patrick’s Parents

Patrick Deuel, a former restaurant manager, weighed 1,072 pounds (76 stones) when he was admitted to Sioux Falls Avera McKennan Hospital in South Dakota. He was born on the 28th March 1962 weighing a perfectly normal 7lb 12oz.

His weight rocketed, by the time he was four years old he weighed six stones. His mother, Betty, recalls “He didn’t necessarily eat more, just gained faster”. Neighbours assured her it was just puppy fat which he would lose as he grew older. Betty banned sweets and tried to ensure the family had a healthy diet.

Patrick’s father, Jim, remembers things a little differently “When Patrick sat down to a meal, he could eat a full-size portion and still be hungry. He was always hungry”.

When Patrick was admitted to hospital, Dr. Fred Harris, an obesity surgeon said “At the time I first met him, he was advertised as being in the 800lb range. When I looked in the room, it was clear this was something way over that. It was something you see but once in a career”.

14 stone of Patrick’s weight was fluid, Dr. Harris knew it would go quickly on a crash-diet, but he couldn’t starve him. Despite his size, Patrick was suffering from malnutrition. Dr. Harris explained “Lot’s of people think that because you’re taking in all those calories that you’re going to be well nourished. The answer is ‘No’. He was taking in lots of calories, but he was not taking in high-quality calories, only lots of fats and lots of carbohydrates”.

Morbidly Obese
Patrick Deuel

Dr. Harris’ team of nutritionists devised a special diet. Patrick was to eat one tenth of what he would normally eat. The results were sensational. Patrick was forced to be frank “It was either buckle-down and do it or go home and die. Dr Harris had told me ”while you’re in hospital you are going to do what I tell you’.”

Local reporter, Jane Andrews has made the Half Ton Man’s fight for life into world-wide news. She remembers “When we first met him, he had trouble breathing, he could not complete an entire sentence. By the time we saw him again, in October, he had lost so much weight that conversation was quite easy for him”.

Patrick’s wife, Edith, was his first and only girlfriend. Edith explains “We don’t have a sexual relationship, it’s just not possible”. Their marriage has never been consummated.

After four months of being on his crash-diet, Patrick was nearly half his previous weight. Dr. Harris knew, from experience, that compulsive eaters, like Patrick, leave hospital and can put all the weight back on in a matter of months.

Despite making good progress, Patrick was still cheating on his diet. When friends and family came to visit, they had to be frisked by the nursing staff to ensure they were not bringing him snacks. It was decided that there was only one way to stop Patrick over-eating, an operation to reduce the size of his stomach.

Stomach Reduction
Gastric Bypass

In gastric bypass surgery, the surgeon uses a row of staples to seal off most of the stomach, leaving a small pouch on top. This restricts food intake. The small intestine is then attached to the pouch which reduces the absorption of calories and nutrients.

Patrick’s stomach was reduced to the size of a thumb, it simply wasn’t able to take in large amounts of food.

The stomach of the morbidly obese is typically much larger than the stomach of a normal person. In Patrick’s case, the stomach was huge and could, probably, have held three litres.

It might not be greed that’s driving Patrick’s huge appetite. For years, scientists have been searching for reasons why people over-eat. In 1995, in an experiment with mice, they identified a gene that could be responsible. The difference between a normal mouse and an obese mouse was a gene that produced a single protein hormone in the brain, called leptin. The mice without it were always hungry, overate, and became obese. Since then, scientists have gone on to discover many other genes that seem to determine our desire to over-eat.

Patrick seems to be winning his battle, but long-term success stories are rare in the world of the super-obese. He is returning to hospital to check on his weight-loss. This is the first time in seven years that he has been fit enough to make a long trip with his wife Edith.

When Patrick left hospital, he weighed 616lbs (44 stone). Dr. Harris would be pleased if he had maintained that loss. In fact, Patrick has lost a further 120lbs in the six months he has been at home, but even so, his weight is still dangerously high at 35 stones.

Patrick is not out of the woods yet. Stomach reduction operations are usually successful in the short-term, but more than half will eventually fail. Patrick now weighs 457lbs and hopes to lose a further 100lbs after an operation to remove his excess skin.

CREDITS: All of the above information came from the UK Channel 4 “BodyShock” documentary series.

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