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Surgery has given Pamela her life back

Specialist bariatric dietitian Karen Haritou, Pamela Herron,
bariatric specialist nurse Sara Close, consultant surgeon Bussa Gopinath and consultant surgeon Milind Rao

A mum from Fishburn has become the first to have a gastric bypass at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.  

Thirty-six year old Pamela Herron from Fishburn had the weight loss surgery in March and has since lost an amazing five and a half stone – more than 55% per cent of her excess body weight.  

Her weight has reduced from 18 stone 8lbs to just over 13 stone and she has dropped from a dress size 24 to a 16-18 after having the surgery.    

Mum of four Pamela, who works in her local community centre, at an after school club and volunteers every week at a theatre group, said: “I had made an appointment to my GP because I’d been suffering with pain in my knees.  It was then that he told me about the new service which was being offered at my local NHS trust.  I was interested to find out more and so I was referred to the team of specialists.”  

Bariatric specialist nurse Sara Close explained:  “There are certain criteria which the patients must meet to be able to have the gastric bypass.  Patients need a body mass index (BMI) of over 35 and health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure or a BMI of over 40 and no health problems.  Pamela’s body mass index was 46.7 and has since reduced to 34.  People have to show they are committed.  They have to lose 10% of their excess body weight before surgery.  

“Fourteen days before the surgery patients are put on a very strict diet, which is low in carbohydrates, fat and sugar, to be able to shrink the liver, so that the operation can be done by keyhole.  Our specialist dietitian Karen Haritou works with the patients right from the start and after surgery.  After surgery, patients may need to take vitamin and mineral supplementation including, calcium, multivitamins and B12 injections to make sure they get the nutrients they need.   

“It’s a lot for the patients to prepare for and a lot for them to deal with after surgery.  It makes a huge change to a person’s life.   That’s why there is a specialist team, including a psychologist to help and provide the right support for our patients.”  

Pam said:  “I was tired of watching my four sons enjoying themselves and always being the one to sit back and watch.  I would get breathless very easy.  Everyday tasks that you would normally take for granted became difficult.  I was struggling with my weight and really wanted to do something to improve my lifestyle.   

“I received a letter a couple of weeks later inviting me to the seminar, where I met the staff and found out everything I needed to know about the surgery and how I would need to prepare. Surgery isn’t an easy way out.  You need to be mentally prepared and in the right frame of mind.”   

Consultant surgeon Bussa Gopinath said: “Pamela has done really well to lose the weight.  This shows how committed and determined she has been to modify her diet and lifestyle.  

“The gastric bypass surgery which Pamela has had is, in the majority of cases, done using keyhole techniques and helps to significantly reduce health risks commonly associated with being overweight.”    

Consultant surgeon Milind Rao explained:  “The surgery involves creating a small pouch within the stomach which is then detached from the main part of the stomach and reattached to part of the small bowel.  This creates a restrictive effect to the main part of the stomach, reducing the amount that can be eaten and also by bypassing part of the small bowel, limiting the amount of calories, protein and minerals that can be absorbed.”   

Consultant endocrinologist So Pye: added:   “People who are overweight are often affected by type 2 diabetes and this surgery has shown encouraging results for those patients.”  

Thanks to the specialist keyhole techniques used, Pamela was on her way home from hospital just a few days after the surgery.   

Pamela continued:  “My life has changed completely. I have gained an enormous amount of confidence. You need to have support and I’m really lucky to have had that from my family and friends.  I couldn’t have done it without my husband by my side.  

“It has had a really positive effect on all of the family.  We’re all leading a healthier lifestyle.  We recently went away as a family.  I hadn’t been swimming for years and it was brilliant to have the confidence to join in.  I’ve got my life back”.  

Pamela has suffered with asthma over the years, but since losing weight she hasn’t had to use her inhaler and is no longer suffering any pain in her knees. She said:   “I feel healthier and a lot better than I have for years.”  

“The care here at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has been great, the team have been absolutely amazing.  

“It has been emotional.  I was quite nervous and apprehensive about the operation, but the team put me at ease.  I couldn’t have wished to be cared for by anyone else. Now I’m excited about having a happy and healthy future with my family.”