Half-ton man drops nearly 500 pounds

Saturday, January 22, 2005

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Patrick Deuel is half the man he used to be.

Deuel, 42, was scheduled to leave the hospital as early as Friday, seven months after he checked in in grave condition, at 1,072 pounds. After undergoing stomach-reduction surgery in October, he is down to 610 pounds and is healthier.

Now, the Valentine, Neb., man looks forward to the simple things others take for granted, such as taking out the trash and shoveling snow.

"We've given him [another] shot at life ... and I hope he seizes on it," said Dr. Fred Harris, leader of the nine-person medical team responsible for Deuel's care at Avera McKennan Hospital.

Deuel was admitted on June 4. Heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure and other problems caused by severe obesity threatened to kill him. He had trouble breathing and was malnourished because so many of his calories came from foods high in fat and carbohydrates. He had been housebound for seven years and bedridden for months.

Deuel could someday go back to work if he sticks to his diet, keeps building his strength and increases his level of activity, his doctor said.

"My hope is Patrick will be able to remain mobile enough to get out of the house and get a job," Harris said. "He could have a career in motivational speaking. He's got the smarts."

Harris knew surgery was Deuel's best chance but said Deuel needed to show he was healthy enough to undergo the operation. Deuel was put on a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet and started exercising, and was soon strong enough for surgery.

Deuel said he is not particularly worried about sticking to a diet once he returns home; he used to be a cook and restaurant manager.

He said eventually he would like to get down to 240 pounds -- although the last time he saw that on the scale was when he was in sixth grade.

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