Page last updated at 11:00 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 12:00 UK

Man who lost 20 stone refused op

Alistair Preston with his partner Samantha Collins
Alistair Preston started binge eating after his father died

A man who lost 20 stone (127kg) says he has been refused surgery to remove four stone (25kg) of excess skin because he is still considered to be overweight.

Alistair Preston was more than 37 stone (235kg) when he had an operation in 2006 to reduce the size of his stomach.

Mr Preston, 28, of Cardiff, is now around 17 stone (108kg) but has a large amount of excess skin he wants removed.

But in a letter to his GP, Health Commission Wales (HCW) said his body mass index (BMI) was still too high.

Mr Preston, who is 5ft 11in (1.8m) tall, said that to reach the required BMI he would have to weigh 12st 6lb (78kg).

But he said dieticians estimated that four stone of his weight was made up of excess skin and if he was forced to slim down further before surgery took it away, he could be left "seriously underweight".

"I'm still in a way feeling like that big guy, that 37-stone man," he said.

Alistair Preston
Dieticians estimate Mr Preston's excess skin weighs four stone

"I look at myself and it's like another person inside of me. I lie in bed and it's all hanging over.

"It's hard to cope with every day. I look down at myself and feel miserable."

Mr Preston's mother Anna said she was "very angry at the system".

"He's under a psychiatrist and I have to watch my son," she said.

"I'm sure every mother would feel the same way, I don't want to lose my son."

Mrs Preston, of Bridgend, remortgaged her home to pay for her son's gastric sleeve operation but said she could not afford to pay privately this time.

She paid almost 10,000 for the first operation after Mr Preston was told by the surgeon he would only have a year to live if nothing was done.

The family estimate that another operation to remove the excess skin would cost about 15,000.

"He's now become a person who's trapped in his home," said Mrs Preston.

Alistair Preston before his operation
Before surgery - Mr Preston weighed around 37 stone

"He wears a tight vest which he hopes hides his excess skin.

"If I could pay for this operation I would, but I can't."

Mr Preston, who has a three-year-old daughter, said he started eating excessively when his father Alan died after a long illness.

"My dad died when I was 17 and I went downhill from there," he said.

But his operation gave him a new lease of life until he realised that while the fat was disappearing, the excess skin remained.

"At first when I started to lose weight, it was great," he said.

"Then I started to notice I was losing the weight but there was skin hanging everywhere.

"I went from high to rapidly feeling down again."

Decision

The case has been looked at by the Health Commission Wales internal review panel but it decided to uphold the original decision to refuse surgery despite support from Mr Preston's GP.

His partner Samantha Collins, 24, said: "We can go to an external review panel and we're just building a case for it.

"They're saying that's the last option we have."

Now Mr Preston just wants to have the operation so he can get on with his life again.

"I wanted to be a counsellor to help other people but when I started to lose confidence I said I couldn't do this," he said.

"It would give me a better life, able to go out there and find work and do something for myself.

"I want to go out there and not be noticed for the big guy but just be noticed as an average Joe."

A spokesperson for Health Commission Wales said: "While we cannot comment on any individual case it should be noted that HCW always considers exceptional cases and HCW will consider abdominoplasty/ apronectomy for individuals suffering from severe functional problems that have a negative impact on their day-to-day life."




SEE ALSO
Obesity op 'scandal' attacked
13 Feb 07 |  South West Wales
Q&A: Obesity
17 Mar 06 |  Medical notes

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