MORBIDLY-obese Nicola Farnell was destined to die before she reached 40 – until she went under the surgeon’s knife and shed an amazing 16st.
The Sunderland mum tipped the scales at a dangerous 27st 7lbs, after piling on the weight following the birth of her children.
So the 39-year-old took the drastic step of having gastric bypass surgery in a bid to save her own life.
“I feel great now and have a new lease of life,” said Nicola, who has dropped 10 dress sizes. “My kids say they have a trendy mam now.”
Unlike gastric band surgery, the bypass procedure is permanent, shrinking the stomach to such an extent that she was only able to have purified food for the first few months afterwards.
Now weighing in at 11st 11lbs, Nicola says she feels like a new woman, but advises others to tackle their weight before it threatens their life.
The surgery was so dramatic that she had to be taken to hospital not long after, to remove a cream cracker her stomach was unable to digest.
Nicola, of Philadelphia, said: “I had previously been taken to hospital with pneumonia and was in ICU for 10 days. They said then that if I didn’t lose the weight I would be dead by 40.
“My family were really worried, but I said if I didn’t have the surgery I wouldn’t be here to see them at all.”
Nicola, who is married to Gary, was on the operating table for five hours at North Tyneside Hospital, during which time surgeons made her stomach smaller by shortening the length of her small intestine.
This allows food to bypass most of the stomach, so she eats less and feels full sooner.
The mum-of-four said: “I really wanted the surgery, I wasn’t scared at all.
“But I didn’t react well to the anaesthetic and when I came out of surgery my family said I looked like the bionic woman.
“For the first three months I had to eat pureed food like baby food and then gradually build up from that.
“But I cheated and ate a cream cracker so they had to put a camera down my throat and remove it.
“I can eat anything now but only in small amounts and I’m never hungry like other people.”
After her weight loss, during which time she went from a size 30 to a 12/14, Nicola has since had four operations to remove excess skin.
This included on both her arms, stomach and having her breasts lifted, which has left her feeling like a new woman.
“I’m even learning to drive which I never had the confidence to do before,” she said.
“But I hope people look at me and try to do it the healthy way through slimming classes before it’s too late. I want them to know there’s help out there.”