A GRIEVING family today told how a mum-of-three died after undergoing dramatic weight-loss surgery.
Relatives of Caroline Clark never had a chance to say goodbye to the 38-year-old, whose death has been linked to problems following the gastric bypass operation.
An inquest heard that doctors could not be blamed for her death, but her family told the Echo how Caroline, of Mowbray Road, Hendon, was left in crippling pain following the procedure which saw her weight fall from 21st to 14st.
Caroline’s mum, Jan, said: “She was happy with her weight before the operation, but wanted to see her children and grandchildren grow up.”
The family said people should thoroughly think it through before undergoing gastric bypass surgery.
“It should be entirely their decision,” said Caroline’s sister Jo-Ann Venner.
“It took Caroline three years to decide whether to have it, because of the risks.”
Caroline suffered almost constant medical problems between undergoing the gastric bypass at Sunderland Royal Hospital and her death 11 months later.
Sickness and stomach pains left her unable to eat, take vitamins or other medication. The once-happy mum was left distraught due to her deteriorating health.
Jo-Ann, 37, said: “After the operation she was a different person, relying on other people. She could not do anything for herself at all. The operation was supposed to make her better.
“She would do anything for anyone. Her house was always open and it was always full.”
The family told how Caroline’s weight had never held her back and she only decided to have the operation after developing diabetes.
An inquest at the Regus Centre in Doxford Park, Sunderland, heard how Caroline died on November 11 last year, leaving behind partner David, children Natasha, 20, Alanna, 13, and Aelfred, 11, and granddaughter Angel, now six months, who she saw just three times before her death.
Pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton told the inquest that the main cause of death was bronchial pneumonia, with the secondary factor being nutritional compromise related to gastric bypass surgery.
Consultant surgeon Mr Peter Small, of Sunderland Royal Hospital, told the inquest that in his opinion Caroline was three times as likely to die as someone the same age with normal body weight and the bypass was a last resort.
He said: “Caroline already had a number of medical conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, type two diabetes and had her gall bladder taken out.
“She smoked 20 cigarettes a day, suffered from depression and was a binge drinker. She had a poor dietary history and irregular eating habits.”
But Caroline’s family today said her health was never the same after the surgery, and their questions surrounding her death remain unanswered.
Mum Jan added: “She never had a decent meal from first having the operation, because she was always being sick.
Although many tests were carried out, doctors were never able to establish what caused Caroline’s stomach pains.
Verdict: unexpected outcome of an admission to hospital.