Young mom tried everything to lose weight. Now, at last, she has ...

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Young mom tried everything to lose weight. Now, at last, she has hope

The self-taught computer technician underwent a life-changing surgery

Journalist



For years Khanyiswa Thusi tried every weight loss programme she came across.
She became so downhearted about her obesity that she stopped weighing herself three years ago when she weighed 180kg. She also received so much mockery that she stopped going to town, where even strangers would laugh at her.
But the 36-year-old mother of one from Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal got an early Christmas gift after she received a life-changing metabolic surgery for free – thanks to doctors of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital.
A year ago Thusi, a computer technician, wrote a heart-rending letter to the private hospital group asking its healthcare workers to help her after trying different weight loss programmes with no luck.
“I have tried so many things to lose weight. Instead I kept on gaining and my stomach is so huge. I didn’t know how to help myself anymore. Metabolic surgery was my only hope,” she said.
As a mother of a young daughter with a BMI of 78, she was concerned she would develop diabetes, high blood pressure or other obesity-related health issues, which could result in a shorter lifespan and leave her child orphaned.
She is one of millions of South Africans who suffer from obesity.
According to the latest SA Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2016 by Stats SA, the prevalence of obesity in SA women is three times the global average.
The survey suggests 35.9% of women aged 15 to 49 years are obese. A further 30% of women are overweight, putting many at risk of lifestyle diseases and early mortality.
According to a report released by the New England Journal of Medicine last year, about three out of 10 adults in SA are considered obese.
But there is hope for Thusi, who had her dream fulfilled following her life-changing surgery at the end of November.
This is after Dr Gert du Toit a specialist surgeon from that hospital’s metabolic centre, mobilised colleagues to volunteer their services to see Thusi’s surgery through. The initiative also saw the Netcare Foundation chipping in to cover hospital and theatre fees.
Following several assessments by a multidisciplinary team including a physician, endocrinologist, dietician, psychologist and a biokineticist, Thusi qualified for the surgery, which is traditionally considered as a last resort of weight loss.
Du Toit, who led the medical team alongside his partner Dr Ivor Funnel, said Thusi was expected to lose between 60kg and 70kg, which would greatly reduce her risk of developing chronic diseases and metabolic syndromes.
He described the surgery as intricate, and said the procedure took longer than usual.
“The patient had a BMI of more than 75, which is unusually high, particularly given her short stature of 1.5m. In addition to a thick abdominal wall, she also had a small abdominal cavity which meant the space to work in was reduced, which made the procedure more tricky,” he said.
And the results of the procedure are already paying off, with Thusi having lost 15kg within the first week of surgery.
Thusi, a self-taught technician, said not only did she feel good and confident post-surgery, but she aimed to use her good health to pursue her career in computer science and grow a family farming business.
“I feel so light and happy to my soul now that I have had the benefit of the procedure. I feel like there is hope for me for the first time.
“Through the years I have applied for many jobs within this field, but my weight always counted against me. I am feeling so much better and ready to take on the world with confidence,” she said.

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