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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.''

CAPTION(S):

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
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 15, 2003
Words:784
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