Anguish over delayed obesity surgery

By Martin Johnston

Angelique Jurd lost 10kg for surgery. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Angelique Jurd lost 10kg for surgery. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Angelique Jurd was terrified she would rapidly regain weight she had to lose to have obesity surgery, after the operation was postponed without a new date being set.

The 44-year-old mother from Beachlands was scheduled to have surgery on April 26 to remove 80 per cent of her stomach - a "sleeve gastrectomy".

But an official from the Counties Manukau District Health Board, which put her on the waiting list for the operation last July, told her this week it had been postponed because of a shortage of anaesthetic technicians.

Ms Jurd said this left her upset, and uncertain about the ultra-low-calorie, pre-surgery diet of vegetables and special milkshakes which she had started, and whether she would regain too much weight.

"I'm absolutely terrified. I'm terrified of eating. I'm terrified I am going to put back the 10kg, when they will say 'you've got to start over'."

Yesterday, however, following Herald inquiries, the DHB said that as long as Ms Jurd was cleared for surgery at an anaesthetic appointment scheduled for April 27, a new date for the operation would be negotiated with her.

May 9 was the tentative date.

Ms Jurd was elated and relieved by the change.

The DHB said the new surgery date did not result from the Herald's involvement.

A spokeswoman said the DHB had coped with the shortage of anaesthetic technicians until now because of measures like existing staff not taking leave. The organisation was ahead of its elective surgery target.

However, it had postponed some operations scheduled to have been done in coming weeks because of the technician shortage now being compounded by Easter and school holidays.

There had been 12 technician vacancies. Six trainees and a qualified technician had been recruited, but the trainees could not begin supervised work until July 25, following the completion of initial training.

Ms Jurd said she needed to have breast reduction surgery because her breasts caused neck and shoulder pain that restricted her ability to exercise, but she could not have that surgery until her weight was much lower. She was also suffering from high blood pressure related to obesity.

She had made great efforts to lose weight, but always ended up putting on more than she lost.

She weighed 105kg when she was accepted onto the obesity surgery waiting list and her body mass index was around 44.

Ms Jurd said she was now down to 95.4kg.

She was looking forward to her surgery and the end of "feeling like there was something wrong with me because I just could not get my weight down and keep it down".

- NZ Herald

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