Gastric sleeve op gives new hope for an aspiring mum

Health care assistant Faye Odell is bubbling with enthusiasm about the future.

She says she’s always wanted a baby and now she’s had gastric sleeve surgery, her dream may become a reality.

Faye, 34, of Longcroft Road, Luton, has had a weight problem as long as she can remember.

“I’ve always been big,” she said. “I was bullied at school and they always mentioned my size. It really got to me and I became very emotional about it. I never really wanted what I ate but I always had seconds, I suppose you could call it comfort eating.”

“I did all the diets that came along but nothing seemed to work for me.”

Her partner, self-employed builder James Turvey, was always supportive but Faye realised her weight problem could be causing other issues.

She’d never had a period and decided if she wanted that longed-for baby, it was time to do something about her weight which had ballooned to 149kg.

“I saw the obesity team at the Luton & Dunstable Hospital and they told me I’d have to follow a healthy eating plan and exercise. I had to actively participate in the programme by consistently losing weight before they would consider surgery,” she said. “At last there was light at the end of the tunnel.

“I was nervous and I was scared but they were very supportive.

“I spoke to a psychologist who said various events in my past had put pressure on me and it was probably a mixture of everything that had contributed to my weight gain.”

Faye had gastric sleeve surgery in April and now has five tiny little scars as a memento of the laparoscopic surgery.

“They remove 85 per cent of your stomach,” she explained. “You feel fuller quicker. Now just a saucer of food is enough – and I only eat healthy stuff.”

Her weight has dropped rapidly and she’s happier than she’s ever been . . . counting the days until she can start trying for a family.

L&D consultant surgeon Vigyan Jain, pictured with Faye, set up the bariatric unit in 2001. More than 2,200 operations have been carried out since then.

He said: “Women patients far outnumber men and surgery is often the last step.

“There’s a popular misconception that it’s simply overeating but in more than 60 per cent of cases there’s a psychological issue behind obesity – for example abuse in childhood, marriage break-downs. It’s multi faceted.

“It can also be caused by sports injuries, severe arthritis, mobility problems. It leads to co-morbidity such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

“When people get to a certain size, it’s virtually impossible to reverse it themselves.

“We need special equipment to help operate on these cases.”

Patients can now be offered a gastric band, sleeve, bypass or duodenal switch.

Mr Jain finds his work “enormously rewarding” but believes halting the current obesity epidemic needs to be tackled at a younger age with an awareness campaign in schools: “But sadly the funding simply doesn’t exist.”