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No News Is No News For Morbidly Obese

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
No News Is No News For Morbidly Obese

Two women denied life-saving anti-obesity surgery are still waiting for answers from their respective health boards.

In June, after years of bureaucratic bungling 44-year-old Lynda Sim, who falls in the Capital Coast and Health jurisdiction; and 25 year old Jasmin Sciascia, who lives in the Whanganui DHB area, spoke out about a system that could cost them their lives - highlighting the disparity of a system that allocates surgery based on where patients live.

Wanganui Surgeon Clive Solomon spoke out on behalf of Miss Sciascia who was referred to Middlemore Hospital for surgery, which was denied only because she did not live in Auckland. Then put on hold when the Whanganui DHB refused to pay for it to be done elsewhere. Having reviewed the medical details of Mrs Sim, Mr Solomon believes her case could be even worse.

Mrs Sim spent years being short-listed then got to Wakefield Hospital before being told she didn't qualify for surgery on the grounds she might need post-operative intensive care.

There were no medical conditions - other than those caused by the obesity - which would have increased her risk, Mr Solomon said.

"If you plan to put a morbidly obese lady on an operating table for a big operation, it is a given that she is likely to need to go to intensive care after surgery. It is not some new revelation - it is just part of the deal," Mr Solomon said. "This seems to be nothing but an excuse from her DHB."

For both women the careless cruelty lay in offering them hope, then snatching it away.

Mr Solomon said he was not generally a proponent of anti-obesity surgery however in specific cases, proper bariatric surgery - in a specialist center - with intensive care - was the only appropriate option. Those who claimed the two women involved should diet and exercise their way to good health were totally ignorant of the medical factors involved.

Mrs Sim, who is studying extramurally for a degree in social sciences, said the publicity had drawn a mixed response with some supportive and others cruelly damning - which was little surprise.

"That's the same polarised response we get every time we go out - and one of the reasons it's so easy to become socially isolated when you are obese," Mrs Sim said.

While the Government has promised a national review of the policy, both women remain in medical limbo - and neither has been contacted by their respective health boards since going public in June. Bariatric surgery costs between $17,000 and $35,000, while medical care for the morbidly obese costs an estimated $10,000 a year.

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