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Sunday, 8 July, 2001, 01:25 GMT 02:25 UK
'Super-chair' helps obese patients
Patient Stephen Corrigan and senior sister Cathy Hall use the 'super-chair'
Patient Stephen Corrigan and senior sister Cathy Hall use the "super-chair"
Stephen Corrigan's life was a misery. At 23 stone, he could barely walk more than 150 yards.

He decided to have a "gastric bypass", which reduces the size of the stomach.

And he says his hospital stay was made more comfortable with special beds, sofas and even an wheelchair 50% bigger than normal - specially designed to make obese patients more comfortable.

Here, staff and patients tell BBC News Online about the outsize equipment.


Bupa's Leeds Hospital is a national centre for surgical treatment for the obese.

Around 150 patients a year undergo the gastric bypass at the hospital.

Senior sister Cathy Hall told BBC News Online it was initially difficult for both patients and staff because conventional equipment did not take account of patients' weight.

That meant patients' movement was restricted, and nurses and porters found it difficult to transfer patients between departments.


For many patients, their self-esteem is very low. We wanted to make their lives more normal

Cathy Hall
Senior sister
Stephen Corrigan, 46, a diabetic was suffering severe health effects because of his weight.

He had the gastric bypass operation five weeks ago.

The pub owner from Hertfordshire said: "I suffered out-of-control diabetes. Despite taking lots of insulin and other drugs, I couldn't get my blood sugar levels down."

He said the special hospital equipment really helped.

"The beds were electronically adjustable. That makes it so much easier. At 23 stone, when you're lying in bed, it makes it very difficult to get up."

And he praised the special wheelchair the hospital has in which he was taken for post-operative x-rays.

"It really benefits the patients and the staff."

He now hopes to get down to 10 stone for his daughter's wedding in September, and says he has more energy than ever before.

'Outcasts

The gastric bypasses, carried out by surgeon Stephen Pollard, involves the size of the stomach being reduced by stapling and shortening the length of the bowel, cutting the patients appetite and ability to absorb food.

Sister Hall said it could mean patients reduce their weight by between 50 and 75%.

She added that patients who came into the unit often felt they were "outcasts" because of their size.

And she said many people thought their size was due to laziness, rather them metabolism problems.

"It used to take four female nurses, or two men to lift the patients. It made them very embarrassed."

The staff approached a specialist company to make a specialist electronic wheelchair to carry patients weighing up to 40 stone - conventional chairs can only bear up to around 13 stone.

She added: "For many patients, their self-esteem is very low. That's why we wanted to buy it - to make their lives more normal, that we weren't making a special effort to care for them."

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See also:

30 May 01 | Health
Obesity epidemic warning
24 May 01 | Health
New drug to beat obesity
01 Jun 01 | Health
Anti-obesity drug 'works well'
09 Mar 01 | Health
'How obesity drug helped me'
25 Jun 01 | Health
Diet boost for diabetics
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