Blogger urges followers to back her battle with hospital for ‘life-changing’ surgery to remove excess skin after she lost 55kg

A Canterbury woman who documented online her two-year battle against obesity has called on her thousands of fans to help fight Christchurch Hospital's decision not to go ahead with a "life-changing" operation.

Elora Harre wants the excess skin - which is the result of losing nearly 55kg - to be removed from her body.

The 21-year-old, who lost weight over two years through healthy eating and exercise, says the extra skin on her stomach, inner thighs, calves, lower back, arms, breasts and armpits is physically crippling and has taken a huge psychological toll on her life.

Ms Harre, a customer service representative, said she hoped her battle with the health system could help pave the way for other people in her situation.

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Yesterday, she said she was called the "perfect candidate" for an operation to remove it by Christchurch Hospital's plastic surgery team at a consultation, but was told the hospital did not have the resources to perform it.

Now, she has emailed the hospital's general manager as well as Health Minister Jonathan Coleman asking them to reconsider her case and questioning why the operation was not available to her as a fit and healthy person.

She's also asking her fans - of whom she has nearly 20,000 on Facebook - to email them too.

"Why is it that despite the fact we are quickly becoming an obese nation, for someone who has done what I was asked and lost the weight that could've cost our public health system a lot more, that there is no resource for me?

"There needs to be something for people like me. The people who have lost the weight that is so hard to lose, that you have asked to lose the weight, who are left with grim consequences.

"I should not be turned away from the public health care system because I am otherwise healthy. We should instead celebrate the rest of my good health as a direct result of my life change, and be able to remedy the one part that is letting my health down.

"I was told this operation would change my life. I know it would. I wouldn't have to live with the excess skin that is not only physically crippling with ongoing skin conditions, but also has a huge psychological effect on my life.

"It is so uncomfortable to have to tuck your extra skin into your clothing each day, and have an ongoing staph infection as well as an irritated navel - yet this is not serious enough to warrant the funding."

On a post to her Facebook page "The Shrinking Violet", Ms Harre encouraged readers to email both the Health Minister and the hospital's general manager, Pauline Clark.

Last night, a spokeswoman for Dr Coleman said Ms Harre's email had been received but she could not make any further comment at this stage.

Canterbury District Health Board planning and funding general manager Carolyn Gullery said the DHB did not comment on individual cases, for privacy reasons.

"However, as a general comment, we assess individuals based on clinical need and according to guidelines that apply nationally. Under some circumstances, plastic surgery after significant weight loss is clinically justified and we are able to carry out a limited number of such procedures.

"However much we might empathise with anyone who would benefit from surgery, the reality is that we carry out procedures on a prioritised basis according to both budget and capacity constraints."

Clinical Director of the Christchurch Plastic Surgical Department, Barnaby Nye, discusses health care delivery within a constrained budget. Read his paper here.