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Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Friday, 11 September 2009 14:36 UK
'Why I had anti-obesity surgery'
Abigail Bryan
Before and after: Abigail lost more than a stone in the week after the procedure

A teenager from Darlington has been fitted with a gastric band, after reaching a weight of 24 stone.

Night Club DJ, 19 year old Abigail Bryan, also known as DJ Baby Bear, first applied for the procedure at the age of just 13.

A week after the procedure, Abigail had lost more than a stone and was four stone below her peak weight, having gone on a crash diet beforehand.

Doctors have warned that the procedure is not a miracle cure for obesity.

Goodbye "Flabby Abi"
Abigail Bryan
I've been bullied at school. I've been held at knifepoint for being fat. You just think, 'why?'
Abigail Bryan

Abigail's mother, Julie, remembers how her daughter had not even started school when she ran home crying.

Already well above average weight, she had become the butt of jokes among the children in her street.

"I told her, 'Right, you can either let it ruin your life, or you can realise that these people are just idiots.' From then on she just sort of dismissed it."

From the age of five, Abigail was being seen by dieticians. By the time she was in her teens, it was clear nothing was working.

"I've been to Weight Watchers and Slimming World," said Abigail. "My Nan's starved me, but I'd still go out and eat other things with my friends and stuff."

Abigail added, "It's them more than me. I've realised that now, but over the years I've been bullied at school. I've been held at knifepoint for being fat. You just think, 'why?'"

Pills and potions
Gastric Band Surgery
Gastric banding
Sunderland Royal Hospital says it is receiving 1,000 referrals a year, asking for gastric band surgery
A fluid-filled balloon is clipped around the upper end of the stomach with a band
This restricts the flow of food into the lower stomach, making the patient feel full sooner
The band can be adjusted via the reservoir which is sited beneath the skin

When Abigail was 13, she saw a television programme about young people receiving gastric band treatment, where the stomach is narrowed, limiting the amount of food that can be eaten.

"I went to the doctor's and they said, 'No, you're too young.' At the time I didn't think I was, but looking back I wasn't mentally stable enough, in a way, so I've been waiting and passed on to psychologists and child psychiatrists and all that."

In the meantime, teenage Abigail was on a range of diets and diet pills. Her nose wrinkled as she recalled one of the diet pill regimes she had been on.

"What happens is, your body takes all the fat and just removes it in other ways and it's not nice. I was at college at the time and if I ate one little bit of fat, I'd be running to the toilet."

"Showbiz Pizza"
More Information

For all her size, Abigail has always been outgoing and after college, had begun working as a DJ.

The lifestyle, said her mum, didn't help matters. "She's out from sometimes 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon setting up.

"They don't get back until 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning sometimes, once they've taken everything back to the lock-up.

"They haven't eaten in 12 hours, so of course on the way back they get pizzas and stuff. It's the only place open."


At 17, Abigail was finally referred for a gastric band procedure, but her first assessment led her to be turned down.

By this time, her self-confidence was beginning to suffer. "At the stage I am now I wouldn't like to walk past a group of people my own age, because, are they going to shout 'fatty' or whatever? It's like, 'Get over yourself. I'm fat.'"

Finally, in 2009, at the second attempt, Abigail was ready to go under the knife.

"I had to lose 10lbs before they would accept me. That's standard. It took me three attempts to lose that." Abigail couldn't help laughing at the memory.

"It's because they give you three months between the appointments. I could lose the 10lbs in 2 weeks and then you're waiting for this appointment and then you put it back on."

Operation day
Abigail's weight-loss diary
Abigail has decided to keep a video diary on BBC Tees as she tries to adjust to her new, super-strict diet. Watch this space.

On September 4, 2009, Abigail was prepared for her operation. "It didn't really sink in until the night before when I was sat in hospital and I thought, 'This is really going to happen now. Am I doing the right thing?' Because you've always got doubts.

"On the Friday morning when I got it done, I bawled my eyes out, because I was so scared. I'd never had an operation before.

"On Saturday morning, I thought again, 'Have I done the right thing?' because I was in pain and stuff, but now I realise I have done the right thing."

Strawberry mush
Abigail Bryan
It's ok, but it's just the mush thing. It's not nice. It's just the texture, it's just, urgh, no!
Abigail Bryan

In the week after the operation, Abigail lost more than a stone, but the procedure comes at a price.

"I've had to go on a pureed diet for two weeks.

It's just mush and it's not nice. After two weeks I go onto a soft diet of scrambled eggs and yogurt and then I can eat normally, but I can never eat roast meat ever again, barbecued meat, stringy vegetables, bread and there's loads of other things as well that I can't eat."

Doctors stress that the operation is not a magic cure and Abigail still has a lot of work and a lot of saying 'no' to herself between her and her dream of being a size 12-14.

"Chocolate and crisps still go through the band, funnily enough, so you've got to stay away from them and sugary fatty foods and stuff."

A new life

At just 19 Abigail is already suffering from a bad back and painful knee joints. She admits she can not walk upstairs without being out of breath.

Her eyes, though, are on her goal. In 2008 she was offered an opportunity to DJ in Ibiza with some of the biggest names in the business.

She turned the job down, because of her size. "I'd just be ridiculous on the beach with all those size tens."

Once she has shed her excess weight, Abigail has promised herself she will DJ in Ibiza and do the Great North Run.

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