Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on how we life our lives.

We are all being encouraged to reassess lifestyles, looking at ways to stay fit, lose weight and improve general health and wellbeing. 

This is especially true as one of the results of the virus is the link between the high number of deaths in the overweight and clinically obese, anyone with a high BMI (body mass index) is susceptible.

That’s why Samantha Taylor-Rose is glad she took the decision to opt for a gastric sleeve.

“When I had my surgery, no one had heard of Covid-19 but am I so glad I had the gastric sleeve. When you hear about the deaths due to being overweight. Covid could have killed me too. I would recommend it to anyone.”

By taking the decision to have surgery Samantha removed risk from different health-related issues and greatly improved her general wellbeing.  

Having given up smoking, Samantha compensated by doing what most people do, and started comfort eating but not noticing her weight gain. 

Over the months she piled on more and more weight reaching 17 stone, which for the 5ft 1 Samantha, a BMI of 53, meant her obesity was “life-threatening”.

“I did not realise the extent of my eating and as a result, when it caught up with me, I became extremely worried about my health from a well-being point of view and the physical side too.

“I already had issues with my left leg from two road traffic accidents when I was run over.  Then, when I fell on my good leg and injured my hip flexor, the pain was terrible. Nothing seemed to help, it was taking months to get better, and I just piled on even more weight.

“Thankfully, I woke up to the reality about what was happening to me.”

“So, I decided I would have surgery and went on-line to look up my options.”

Having firmly made up her mind, Samantha made an appointment with Mr Abeezar Sarela a gastrointestinal surgeon at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital. 

As Samantha exhausted all over avenues such as dieting, the two of them sat down to chat through the options and touched on BMI (body mass index), which, in Samantha’s case, was really “quite frighteningly high.” 

Mr Sarela discussed the three bariatric operations: gastric band, gastric bypass and gastric sleeve.

One thing that Samantha was clear on though, was that she did not want a gastric band or bypass. “For me it was the gastric sleeve,” she emphatically states. 

According to Mr Sarela, about 1 in 4 weight loss operations in UK are sleeve gastrectomy (also called gastric sleeve). The operation is done by under general anesthesia taking about 1-2 hours. 

So, in February 2019 Samantha went into the Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital where her stomach, which is a large sack-like shape with a capacity of about two pints, was changed from into a thin narrow tube. 

The recovery was quick according to Samantha.  “I had not told my family what I was doing. However, their reaction was brilliant when they saw me after the operation. 

“They were over moon, as in the first couple of days the weight had already started to come off and by the end of the first few weeks when you can eat a bit more, I had already lost a stone and a half.

“The gastric sleeve gives you a feeling of fullness after eating a small meal and controls your appetite, so you do not feel hungry until it is time for the next meal. These effects happen because the gastric sleeve reduces the working size of the stomach. 

“I feel full on just a half a cup of soup really. It is incredible and completely changes your relationship with food.

Mr Sarela explains why: “There are changes in the levels of several hormones that control your hunger, fullness and blood sugar levels. These hormones are released from special cells in the lining of the small bowel and the stomach. Because of these changes in hormone levels, you can feel as if a switch has been turned off in your head. Your hunger is reduced, and you feel fully quickly after eating.

With Samantha food doesn’t interest her now and that is transformational.

“Friends ask me if miss eating out. Well, I don’t! If I want to eat out, then I do and if I only want to eat a third of my meal then I do just that. It seems it is other people that have an issue not me anymore."

Samantha explains that her life has been transformed.

“My mental wellbeing has seen a complete transformation in terms of food, physical activity, clothing, and self-esteem. Simply everything; it has re-energised me and my confidence has returned.”

Samantha is now back to swimming 5 miles a week and she walks comfortably too.  She has lost a total of 6 stone 9lbs, bringing down her BMI from a life-threatening 53 to 28.3.

The last word goes to Samantha who says: “It is irreversible, and I would do it all again.

“It was the most fantastic option and without doubt, the best thing I have ever paid for ever and I did not know that Covid-19 was around the corner. It has definitely been a lifesaver in many ways.”

Read more about Weight Loss (bariatric) Surgery at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital

Back to The Leeds Blog.