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ARE THEY WAITING FOR ME TO DIE? Grandmother fears op denied because she's a Scot.

Byline: PETER LAW

A MORBIDLY obese grandmother is facing a possible death sentence after health bosses in Wales refused to fund her weight-loss surgery.

Julia Day, who weighs 23 stone, has been turned down three times for the life-changing pounds 10,000 operation.

This is despite developing type 2 diabetes and suffering from a sleep disorder that stops her breathing.

Two specialist surgeons and her local GP have all recommended that she undergoes a gastric bypass operation to help her lose half her body weight.

Mrs Day, from Porthcawl, fears that without the drastic operation, known as bariatric surgery, she won't live to see her grandson grow up.

Because of her weight problem, the unemployed mum of three finds it impossible to even play with the two-year-old McKenzie.

"He is a lovely little boy and he has got so much energy. It's just so frustrating and upsetting that I can't even pick him up," the 47-year-old said. "I have no quality of life because I can't do anything. I cannot even do housework because I get out of breath and my back hurts so much. Just getting up is hard for me."

And the unemployed former fairground manager claims the NHS in Wales is refusing her pleas because she is Scottish. She said: "Personally I feel that it is because I am not Welsh. What are they waiting for? Are they waiting for me to die?" The two hour operation would involve creating a small pouch from the upper part of her stomach.

A section of her small intestine would then be bypassed and reconnected to the pouch.

It means she could only eat small portions and her digestive system would be shortened, meaning less food would be absorbed into her body.

Mrs Day, who suffers from sleep apnoea, asthma, epilepsy and osteoarthritis of her spine, said dieting, medication and exercise had all failed.

"Ten years ago I weighed 18 stone, but gradually it crept on because of my health problems," she said.

"I don't really know how I got so big, that is the thing that upsets me. I have always battled with my weight, but I have never been big until the past 10 years.

"With my asthma being as bad as it is I can't do the exercise that they want me to, I could only go up and down the stairs at my apartment and I walk to the shops.

"It's not that this is the easy option for me, it is the only option left to save my life."

Mrs Day suffers recurrent tonsillitis but because of her size she is at too great a risk to go under the knife.

She has spoken out after new figures recently revealed that fewer than one in 10 of those referred for weight-loss surgery in Wales received NHS funding. Of the 1,044 overweight patients referred for the operation in the past two years, just 126 were approved by the Welsh Health Specialised Services Committee (WHSSC).

Under strict guidelines, only the most severe cases, where patients suffered from uncontrolled blood pressure, diabetes or sleeping disorders, are funded.

Tight budgets mean that in Wales only patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 50 are considered for operations, compared with a BMI of 40 in many parts of England.

In a letter sent to the WHSSC last month, Mrs Day's GP said she had a BMI of 50.6 and that her health would continue to deteriorate.

Dr Alun Hemington-Gorse also argued that the committee, and its predecessor Health Commission Wales, was being "extremely short sighted financially".

"I really do feel that Mrs Day's obesity related conditions provide a huge drain on NHS resources in the long term," he wrote.

"As bariatric surgery is likely to markedly improve her weight, and I feel that available dietary advice has been given and she has been on multiple weight loss courses... it is the only really viable option left for her."

The WHSSC, the body which decides which operations are funded, last night said it could not comment on individual cases.

CAPTION(S):

TURNED DOWN: Julia Day fears that without weight-loss surgery her quality of life will be poorer and she could even die PICTURE: PETER BOLTER [umlaut] DANGER: Julia suffers from a sleep disorder which can stop her breathing and has an oxygen machine to keep her alive
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 22, 2010
Words:731
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