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Egyptian Woman, Believed to be World Heaviest, Seeks Lifesaving Surgery 

  • VOA Staff

FILE - An Egyptian woman, Eman Ahmed, was flown on a modified EgyptAir plane to Mumbai, India, to undergo surgery to reduce her weight. She is believed to weigh 500 kilograms.

A 36-year-old Egyptian woman, believed to be the world’s heaviest woman at 500 kilograms, has been brought to an Indian hospital to undergo surgical procedures aimed at drastically reducing her weight and giving her a chance of a normal life.

For Eman Ahmed, the journey to Mumbai was her first outside her home in Alexandria in 25 years. And it involved complex logistics on many fronts: The Indian foreign minister’s intervention to get her a visa, an Airbus modified to equip it with a special bed, a truck at the Indian airport to whisk her to the hospital where a crane lifted her bed into a special unit for her treatment.

Born a heavy baby at 5 kgs, her family has said she began putting on weight by the age of 11 and stopped going to school by fifth grade when it became difficult for her to move.

Stroke worsened her condition

Her condition worsened two years ago when Ahmed suffered a stroke, which not only left her bedridden, but also affected her speech.

The reason for her abnormal weight is not clear. Her family has said she was diagnosed with elephantiasis, in which limbs swell because of a parasitic infection. In Mumbai, she will undergo a series of tests to identify her ailment.

Last October, a Mumbai doctor, Muffazal Lakdawala, who specializes in weight reduction surgeries, responded to a plea for help from the woman’s sister.

Travel, arrangements difficult

But the going was not smooth. Initially the Indian embassy in Cairo turned down her visa request because she could not travel to the city for the interview.

However, a tweet by Lakdawala in December to Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, who was herself in the hospital at the time, drew an immediate response and a visa was promptly granted.

After that, preparations to get her to Mumbai got into full swing. But it took time to arrange her travel because no airline was willing to carry her because of her health complications and the special arrangements that would have to be made. Eventually she took the seven-hour flight on an Egypt Air plane.

Before she arrived in Mumbai Saturday, Indian doctors prepared her for the journey.

“A team of doctors has been in Egypt for the last 10 days to optimize the conditions for her travel,” a statement by her doctor said.

Egyptian Consul General in Mumbai Ahmad Khalil, who met her briefly at the airport, said she was happy to be in Mumbai and expressed hope her suffering would be over.

Her treatment in Mumbai could take two to three months. She will undergo bariatric, or weight loss surgery, which is a stomach-shrinking procedure.

At the moment, the Guinness Book of Records lists Pauline Potter from the United States, who weighs 291.6 kg as the world’s heaviest woman. If Ahmed’s family has her weight correct, she is much heavier at 500 kgs.

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