Weighing in at 1,102 pounds, an Egyptian woman was dubbed the world’s heaviest woman alive. But after undergoing weight reduction surgery in India, she was able to shed her first few hundred pounds and the title of being the world’s heaviest woman.
Prior to the surgery, Eman Ahmed Abd El Aty had barely left her bedroom for more than two decades, according to her family, who she relied on for care. After a stroke a few years ago that left her severely impaired, her speech and mobility were even more limited.
Eman felt completely hopeless, like a prisoner in her own body, until her sister launched a social media campaign surrounding her family’s hardships. The campaign caught the attention of renowned Mumbai-based weight loss surgeon Dr. Muffazal Lakdawala.
Dr. Lakdawala believed he could help Eman shed the weight and regain her life through a series of surgeries.
“She is battling with her life every single day,” Dr. Lakdawala told CNN. “Right now she is like a living bombshell, which could blow up on her any moment.”
The journey to get Eman to India for the life-saving surgery was full of difficulty and roadblocks. At first, Eman was denied her visa to travel to India because she could not physically go to the embassy to apply for it. Thanks to social media once again, India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj learned about Eman’s difficulties and expedited her visa.
Then there was the problem of getting Eman to India. Traditional planes and air ambulances were not equipped to carry a person of her size, so Egypt Air stepped in and outfitted a cargo plane to transport Eman.
In February, Eman finally arrived in India where, under the supervision of Dr. Lakdawala, she lost more than 220 pounds before even going into surgery. There was finally a “window of safety” where “her parameters are all stabilized, kidney is much better, electrolytes are much better,” Dr. Lakdawala explained. It was time for Eman to undergo the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy operation.
The surgery, Dr. Lakdawala reported, was a success.
“She is very happy, she started dancing in her bed,” Dr. Lakdawala told CNN. “Her smile has come back.”
Dr. Lakdawala hopes Eman can lose an addition 155 to 175 pounds within the next few months before returning home to Egypt. Her next surgery will most likely be next year.
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.