A DAD who tipped the scales at 47 stone says a Wearside weight-loss hospital ward has saved his life.
Determined to see his children grow up, Terry Gardner, 29, from Hetton, enlisted the help of Sunderland Royal Hospital specialists to try and tackle his bulging waistline.
ITV documentary viewers saw clinically-obese Terry in the ward where he had a gastric balloon operation to help him shift his excess weight.
Weight Loss Ward, which finishes its two-part run tomorrow, lifts the lid on the region’s obesity problem and the strain it causes on the NHS.
Programme makers focused on Sunderland after it become host to one of the UK’s first dedicated wards to help clinically-obese patients.
Six months later, Terry today reveals to the Echo that he has lost three stone and is hoping to lose more for the sake of his family.
One of the turning points for him was being taunted at Houghton Feast about his weight and having his trousers pulled down by strangers in front of children, Reece, nine, and Chloe, seven.
“Having something done to me like that was awful,” he said. “It really knocks your confidence.
“I’m hoping that appearing in the documentary will open people’s eyes to how they treat and view others in society.
“I think it gives people an insight into why they are the way they are.”
Terry, who is married to Leeanne, 29, added: “I have a lot of emotional reasons for losing the weight. I lost my dad when I was about Reece’s age so I know what it’s like growing up without a dad and I don’t want them to go through that.”
More than 40 per cent of adults in the city are overweight, leading Wearside to be dubbed one of the fattest places in the country.
Terry, who had been housebound for a year prior to the documentary, is one of the heaviest patients to be treated at the ward.
Deemed too fat to undergo safe gastric band surgery, the unemployed dad-of-two has had a gastric balloon fitted, in which a temporary restriction is placed inside the stomach, which reduces food intake.
“The balloon tricks the stomach into thinking it’s full,” explained Terry. “I actually lost five stone but went through a bad patch so I’m now three stone lighter than when I was filmed for the documentary.
“I’ve already noticed the difference. I had got to a stage where I couldn’t wash myself, my wife had to do it for me. But I can wash myself now.”
Terry’s weight began to increase after he married 10 years ago, then in 2007 he broke his leg which affected his mobility.
That, coupled with a diet of kebabs, pizzas and other unhealthy foods, meant his weight spiralled out of control.
He said: “You eat foods like pizzas but you don’t realise how high the calorie content is.
“It becomes a Catch 22 situation because you become too heavy to use gym equipment so you can’t go to the gym to exercise.”
He added: “I’m a lot more conscious of what I eat now. I still see the doctors at the ward now, I think it really has saved my life.”
l Weight Loss Ward is on ITV1 at 8pm on Wednesday.