A 23-stone woman who is too fat to get into the bath wants to skip the NHS queue and get a gastric bypass in Turkey.
Naomi Smith, from the Highlands in Scotland, ‘dreads’ getting out of bed in the morning due to being in constant pain from being so obese.
On some days, the 26-year-old — who has eaten up to 5,000 calories in a single sitting — can now barely go down stairs without toppling.
The mother-of-one, who doesn’t work, has struggled with her weight since puberty — with cruel bullies calling her ‘tree trunk legs’ and a ‘whale’. One even told her she should ‘kill herself’.
Despite trying ‘all the diets’ over the past few years, nothing has helped her shift the excess pounds.
Miss Smith, whose frame once left her stuck in a water slide while holidaying in Florida, is eligible for a gastric bypass on the NHS.
This operation joins the top part of the stomach to the small intestine and makes people feel fuller faster. It also reduces the amount of calories absorbed by the body.
Despite being eligible for the operation on the health service, Miss Smith said the wait is too long and the £8,000 bill to have it done privately in the UK beyond her reach.
She is now asking the public to help fund a £3,500 trip to Turkey for gastric bypass surgery.
Miss Smith is desperate for the surgery so she can be more active with her one-year-old son Jake.
Naomi Smith from Scotland is now so fat she struggles to get in the bath and is begging the public to help her fund weight loss surgery in Turkey
The 26-year-old who lives in Tain in the Socttish Highlands, is desperate for the surgery so she can be more active with her one-year-old son Jake
Miss Smith’s weight has spoiled her family holidays with a trip to Florida with her partner Dale Maver ruined after she got stuck in a water slide
What is weight loss surgery? And who can get it on the NHS?
Unlike liposuction which removes fat directly for aesthetic reasons weight loss surgery is designed to help you lose weight by physically altering your stomach.
While there are several types the most commonly offered in Britain are a gastric band, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.
An artificial band is placed around the top section of stomach creating a small pouch.
This mini-stomach takes less food to fill so you do not need to eat as much before you feel full.
Surgical staples are used to create a small pouch at the top of the stomach.
The pouch is then connected to your small intestine, missing out (bypassing) the rest of the stomach.
This means it takes less food to make you feel full and you’ll absorb fewer calories from the food you eat.
This is where a large part of the stomach is cut away so it’s much smaller than it was before.
This means you cannot eat as much as you could before surgery and you’ll feel full sooner.
Who’s eligible on the NHS?
Weight loss surgery is only available on the NHS under strict conditions.
A person has a a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or a BMI between 35 and 40 and an obesity-related condition that might improve if you lost weight (such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure).
They have tired all other weight loss methods, such as dieting and exercise, but have struggled to lose weight or keep it off.
A person must agree agree to long-term follow-up after surgery – such as making healthy lifestyle changes and attending regular check-ups
How much does it cost?
While available on the NHS the conditions are strict and waiting lists can be long.
Some people opt to have the procedure done privately in the UK but this can cost upwards of £8,000.
This means Britons tend to seek cheaper alternatives in places like Turkey, where the operation can cost just £3,500.
‘I worry that if something were to happen with my son where he needed me to run to him, I wouldn’t be able to,’ she said.
‘I finally want to be living a life that’s better and a happy one, and obviously for my son, and suddenly I wasn’t able to do that physically.
‘That was a really pivotal moment for me when I thought that I needed to make a drastic change.’
She has now set up a GoFundMe fundraiser for the surgery and flights, and has already raised over £1,000.
Miss Smith was diagnosed with lipoedema in June this year, a condition that causes an abnormal build-up of fat in your legs and sometimes arms.
She now takes painkillers daily due to the pain that her excess weight is putting on her joints.
‘I’m in constant pain every single day. I dread getting out of my bed in the morning,’ she said.
Miss Smith also revealed her hefty frame is now so cumbersome that she struggles to wash herself and even go down the stairs.
‘I don’t fit in the bath, which makes washing myself difficult. Even in the shower I struggle as I cannot bend and move with ease,’ she said.
‘On a bad day I can barely get down the stairs. I have to hold on to the wall and banister with all my might trying not to fall.’
One pivotal moment in weight journey came when she was on holiday in Florida in 2017.
‘In Florida we went to a water park and I went to go on one of the slides where you go on a mat and lie down on your stomach,’ she said.
‘I went to push myself but because I’m so heavy I got completely stuck to the bottom of the chute and I couldn’t move. I was like suctioned to the bottom and was mortified.’
Later on the trip she was forced to hire a mobility scooter as moving around caused her so much pain.
Miss Smith said she keenly recalled the schoolyard comment that started her on the path to obesity.
‘I remember one time I was out with my friends walking in front of a group of boys and I could hear them talking about my legs and saying “tree trunk legs”,’ she said.
‘They’d say “you’re a whale’, ‘do you know how big you are?” and “you’re fat”.
‘They used the generic “fatty boom boom” and they’d make a bigger shape with their body and kind of waddle as if they were mimicking me.’
Bullying eventually led her to self-harm.
Her poor mental health led to develop poor eating habits as a coping mechanism in an unhealthy cycle of binge eating and guilt over her weight.
‘I knew the one thing that made me feel calm and happy was food. It was the only time I felt like I was really at peace,’ she said.
‘Fast forward a few hours, where I’ve had a look in the mirror again or seen a photo of myself that I don’t like, I’m uncontrollably crying because I’ve binged all that food and thinking “that’s the reason I look like this”.’
Miss Smith has been diagnosed with lipoedema in June this year, a condition that causes an abnormal build-up of fat in your legs
Miss Smith (pictured here when she was 16) has battled with weight gain since her teens, with relentless bullying from her peers driving her to self harm and become trapped in cycle of binge eating
Miss Smith thanked all those who have donated to her surgery so far and said she could not wait to have the procedure and be more active with Jake.
‘All I want is to be able to get up and just do the normal,’ she said.
‘I don’t want to run marathon or becoming a gold star medallist — I just want to be able to do the basics with my son and take him out independently and not be held back by my body.’
‘I want to be that bit healthier physically where I’m able to just give him the best life that I can.
‘It really is so I can lessen my pain, be more active, live longer for my son and be a better version of myself because I know I can be.’
Miss Smith said she has tried dieting to lose weight before but to no avail.
‘I tried all the diets. I did the baby food diet and so many radical things to lose weight and it just never really happened,’ she said.
An NHS Highland spokesperson said: ‘For reasons of confidentiality, we are unable to comment on individual cases.
‘NHS bariatric surgery is available with specific health criteria that need to be met and NHS Highland has a service arrangement with neighbouring Health Boards to carry out this surgery.
‘More people now seek this surgery privately and this may be because they do not fulfil all the NHS criteria or because they wish to get the operation sooner than the NHS can do it.’