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The amazing, shrinking man; SusanLee meets the slimmer who kept us in the frame about his efforts.

IT is a diary of a disappearing man, a photographic record of an amazing weight loss - and a story which will inspire others.

Less than a year ago father-of-one Ken Clare underwent radical surgery in order to slim down and save his life.

And as this sequence of pictures show the operation was an astonishing success.

``The first photo was done the day before my operation last September and then I had more done - always standing in the same place in the garden - in the months afterwards.

``It's great to see more and more fence appearing behind me!''

Now the qualified nurse, together with the Aintree hospital based surgeon,David Kerrigan, who performed his operation, has set up a website designed to offer information and support to others in the same position.

``When I was in hospital I made a promise to myself to raise awareness of all the issues surrounding obesity and its surgery,''explains 42-year-old Ken who at his heaviest weighed 34 stone and is now 21.

With a background in IT and now working as an infomatics manager for South Liverpool Primary Care Trust he was used to dealing with the world wide web.

``I'd looked there before for information but it seemed a lot of web sites were based in the US, run by women called Kimmy and were all pink and fluffy.

``I thought that if I couldn't find the information I needed neither could anyone else - so I thought, with the help of David Kerrigan, we'd do our own.

``So far we'vehad thousands of hits from all over the world. And if can help just one other person I will have achieved my aims.''

Ken, who lives in Childwall with Jean and his daughter Alison,13, says he was always `abig lad'.

``Once I got to 20 stones I stopped getting weighed and lived a life of yo-yo dieting - I've tried every one imagineable.

``My social life revolved around food. My motto was `never eat on an empty stomach'.I knew I was overweight but couldn't see a way out of it.''

The effect of his increasing bulk began to cause him serious health problems: ``I was breathless all the time. I started to use a stick to walk, then a crutch. My joints began to be affected and on holiday I'dhave to sit on a bench while my wife and daughter walked a round. I needed help getting dressed, too.''

Although he admits he gave the impression of being a jolly, happy person it was simply a coping mechanism.

``I remember going into a chip shop and some kids there laughed at me. That hurt.`` The turning point came with a birthday and a television programme: ``I reached 40 and realised that if I didn't do something I wouldn't live to see 50.

``I decided I had been a spectator on life for too long and I had to do something to change that.''

With a supportive GP he was referred to an obesity management clinic at Walton Hospital where a dietician, physiotherapist and a behaviour expert all helped him review how and what he ate and his relationship to food.

``It took two people to measure my stomach,'' remembers Ken.

Then Ken saw a programme on television and realised that surgery was an option,initially believing he was suitable for a lap banding procedure to reduce the size of the stomach.

In fact,he was told by Mr Kerrigan he was too large for that and that he would have to undergo a far more serious stomach by-pass or Roux-en-Y.

``I was shocked and worried I might die but the future was pretty awful if I didn't haveit.''

The surgery went ahead at Aintree Hospital last autumn - with Ken writing an on-line diary of what was happening to him. ``I knew other people would pass that way a gain. Parts of it were a bit mad but then I was on drugs!''

He spent eight days in hospital,has 54 staples in his stomach scar and is on a strict calorie-controlleddiet.

He also takes regular vitamins and minerals and is on anti-ulcer treatment yet insists it has all been worth it.

``I was in the gym eight weeks after the operation and recently walked almost a kilometre on the treadmill. I've no joint pain and I'mno longer breathless.

``When I dip below 20 stone I'llhold a charity do to raise cash for specialist scales for Aintree. And this time next year I want to run in the Corporate Cup.''


NOW YOU SEE ME,NOW YOU DON'T:Ken records his weight loss in a series of pictures taken from the same spot in his garden
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 15, 2003
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