Johannesburg - A 38-year-old obese woman from KwaZulu-Natal, Eshowe says she has been trying so many things to lose weight but with no luck.
“I just keep on gaining and my stomach is so huge I don't know how to help myself any more, I am obese and the last time I checked in 2015, I weighed 180 kg,” Khanyiswa Thusi said.
The skilled computer technician who has been battling to find employment and has recently started a farming operation with her brother Trevor Thusi, said she knew she needed help with her weight, as she was having serious problems with mobility.
As a mother of a young daughter, she was also deeply concerned she would develop diabetes, high blood pressure or one of the many other health conditions associated with obesity.
Thusi wrote an email to Netcare on December 16, 2017 asking for help.
“I can't afford metabolic surgery, which I believe is now my only hope, people laugh at me, I don't even go to town and it is so painful. Can you please help me to find the necessary assistance so that I can have this surgery?”
Thusi’s call for help did not fall on deaf ears impressed with her can-do attitude and commitment to finding assistance, Dr Gert du Toit who practises at the Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital metabolic centre, which was accredited as a Centre of Excellence for Metabolic Medicine by the South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and Metabolism invited Thusi for a pro bono assessment consultation.
Du Toit mobilised the support of his colleagues of the multidisciplinary team at the metabolic centre, asking whether they would assist him by offering their time and expertise with Thusi’s treatment.
They all had no hesitation in volunteering their services free of charge. He thereafter approached the general manager of Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, Heinrich Venter, who in turn contacted the Netcare Foundation to enquire about the possibility of them covering the hospital and theatre costs that would be incurred as part of Thusi’s treatment.
“Noting the considerable health and wellness benefits that metabolic medicine and surgery can achieve for appropriate patients at a [South African Society for Surgery, Obesity and Metabolism] SASSO accredited multidisciplinary facility, we agreed to cover all of these costs on Ms Thusi’s behalf,” said Mande Toubkin, general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment at Netcare.
“Thusi went through a rigorous process, including a thorough physical and psychological assessment, to determine her suitability as a candidate for metabolic surgery. She was deemed to be a most appropriate patient for surgical intervention and preparations for the surgery thereafter commenced. The metabolic procedure was completed by Dr Du Toit and his surgical partner, Dr Ivor Funnell, on 27 November 2018.”
Du Toit said Thusi’s procedure at the facility was an intricate one, but was successfully completed and he was delighted with the outcome.
“Ms Thusi came for a check-up eight days after surgery and she had not only quickly recovered from the procedure, but had also already lost more than 15 kg,” he said.
“We are deeply honoured to have been able to assist such a dynamic young woman on her journey to improved health and well-being. It was deeply humbling to assist Ms Thusi, who provided us with a meaningful opportunity to give something back to the people of our community.”
Thusi said she would be “forever grateful” to the Netcare Foundation for having covered all of the hospital and other costs associated with the procedure, and the entire team at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital metabolic centre.
“I am most surprised that I have had just about no pain since the operation and have only needed to take one painkiller afterwards. I have also already lost quite a lot of weight and am feeling so much better and ready to take on the world with confidence.”
Du Toit and Funnell who have successfully undertaken about 500 of these minimally invasive procedures at the Netcare St Augustine Hospital’s metabolic centre.
Du Toit says they were expecting her to go on to reach a weight of between 60 kg and 70 kg, which should prove positively life-changing for her, and greatly reduce her risks of developing the chronic medical conditions that were so often associated with obesity, such as metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and others.”
Asked what she planned to do in future, Thusi, who has taught herself how to repair computers, laptops and cell phones, said she aims to pursue a career in computer science, which is her first love.
“I am passionate about computing and IT and have a lot of self-taught skills in this field. I have assisted many people with their technology. Through the years I have applied for many jobs within this field but my weight always counted against me,” said Thusi.
African News Agency (ANA)