A DOCUMENTARY shining a light on Sunderland Royal Hospital’s specialist ward for the morbidly obese returns to the nation’s television screens tonight.
Wearside is home to one of the busiest National Health Service obesity units in the country, and the ITV show Weight Loss Ward follows the stories of some of its Sunderland patients.
Among them is Terry Gardner, of Hetton, who hit the headlines when he appeared in the first series of the show after ballooning to 47 stone.
In the last series, viewers saw the dad of two being forced to sleep downstairs because he was too heavy to manoeuvre easily around his home.
Terry, the heaviest patient on the ward, said: “I’m trapped in my own body.
“Feeling like my weight is eating me up. I want to be able to walk out the door. I want to be able to walk out the door with my children.”
Previously, Terry, married to Leanne, was seen struggling to accept that his bad eating habits were hampering his weight loss, but eventually he accepted he needed to change.
Under local anaesthetic, he had a temporary gastric balloon inserted. It was then filled with fluid, reducing the size of his stomach by half.
“I was the type of person that would just sit around the house, play on the computer – basically a couch potato,” said the 30-year-old.
“Nine months ago, my head really wasn’t in it.
“It was too quick because I wasn’t expecting it. I did actually struggle with my weight.
“I sneaked things that I shouldn’t have, and after that, I was given the opportunity to have the gastric balloon, and that worked for me.
“I’m a lot happier than I was nine months ago.”
Fellow Hetton residents mum-of-two Laura Lamb, 29, weighing 19 stone, and full-time carer David Harper, 35, weighing 31 stone, also feature in the programme.
Peter Small, a senior consultant surgeon at the hospital, said: “This used to be a heavy industry area, and if you look at the other obese areas in the country, they were also heavy industry.
“What have our jobs been replaced with? We’ve got a lot of call centres around here, mainly sedentary.
“If you’re unemployed, what are you going to do for the day?
“I’m sure having nothing to do doesn’t help matters.
“The only way we increase our calorie-burn these days is to actually exercise, and that used to be how you lived.”
Weight Loss Ward is on ITV tonight at 8pm.