23 January 2014
Kevin and Catherine Falconer are seeing a lot less of each other than they used to.
The married couple from Leeds, both professional drivers, have succeeded in losing a total of 15 stone between them after having gastric bypass surgery at Spire Leeds Hospital.
The success of Kevin’s procedure in April 2013 spurred Catherine to have the same surgery last October. “It’s been a good experience being able to support each other throughout the process,” said Catherine. “Seeing Kevin’s success gave me the confidence to have the surgery as I was quite frightened.”
Kevin, 60, is 5ft 3 and weighed 25 stone. He is now 14 ½ stone having lost more than 60 percent of his body mass. Catherine, 59, needed a gynecological operation but was unable to have it due to her size. She was 19 ½ stone and now weighs just under 15 stone.
“We both feel we have been given a new lease of life and a longer life span,” said Kevin. The couple, who have been married 24 years, plan to celebrate by renewing their wedding vows in Las Vegas this April. “
Both had long-term weight problems and had tried to lose weight by trying a variety of diets, exercise (until this became unfeasible), and weight loss medications. Kevin is a HGV lorry driver and cannot divert from his route so his diet consisted mainly of ‘layby food’ and huge fried breakfasts. The weight piled on over the years. “When you are as fat as I was you give up all hope,” he said.
Catherine, a taxi driver, had struggled with her weight since a teenager and suffers from other health problems including osteoarthritis, which made it difficult for her to exercise. She has to grab food while driving and would share takeaways and cakes with other drivers. Both Kevin and Catherine, who live in the Belle Isle area of Leeds, were supported with nutritional advice at Spire and now eat smaller portions of healthier food, which they cook and take to work. “I don’t miss the fatty fried foods at all,” said Kevin.
Catherine said the final straw for her was during a trip to Bridlington with one of her eight grandchildren. “I could not walk even a short distance without getting breathless and having to sit down and I could not make it down the steps to the beach. I came home and started crying. We decided it was time to do something about it,” she said.
Their GP referred them to Professor Peter Lodge, consultant hepatobiliary and weight loss surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital. The couple attended one of the Professor’s free mini consultation events at the Roundhay based hospital.
Professor Lodge said, “Kevin and Catherine were in serious trouble when they first came to see me. At 25 stone and a BMI of 53 Kevin was classified as super-obese and as a result would have a predicted life expectancy of 20 years less than average. Catherine’s BMI was 43 (normal is 18 to 25) and being overweight had seriously affected her joints and breathing. She could only walk a few yards without having to stop to catch her breath, and she would often wake up during the night breathless - a dangerous condition known as sleep apnoea.”
He performed Laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. Kevin and Catherine were in hospital for only one night and were up and about within hours of the surgery. Professor Lodge said, “This is one of the most effective forms of weight loss surgery with the least in the way of side effects compared to other alternatives. The major advance of being able to do the procedure laparoscopically (key hole surgery) is the quicker recovery time. Also, they were able to eat normally by 10 days from surgery, compared to other techniques where the diet is very restrictive for several months.”
Professor Lodge said the benefits are not just weight reduction but may also include: decreased joint pain, less breathing difficulties, ability to sleep right through the night, increased energy and the ability to return to exercise, and enjoy participating in activities with family and friends again.
Kevin said, “Professor Lodge and the team at Spire were fantastic. They are so supportive. It’s not a quick fix. It takes a change of lifestyle. I took the advice on board and stuck to it. Every so often the success gives me an adrenaline rush. It has changed my whole outlook on life.”
Catherine said, “Professor Lodge is my hero! A fellow taxi driver has also had the procedure so he has three very satisfied customers. This year I plan to be running around with my grandkids. I have so much to look forward to I can’t stop smiling!”