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This is how Malissa Jones’ true-life story about how getting pregnant after a gastric bypass is so dangerous for her.
Malissa’s real life story was sold to Closer magazine. Her weight loss story has already appeared through sell my story website Featureworld in the News of the World, Daily Mail, and Reveal magazine – and she has also been featured in Closer before.
By Alison Smith-Squire
Once dubbed Britain’s fattest teenager, Malissa Jones revealed this week she’s having a baby – even though doctors warned a pregnancy could kill her.
Malissa, 20, hit the headlines when aged 17 – and weighing in at a whopping 34 stones – she became the youngest person in the UK to have a gastric bypass.
But after losing the flab and shrinking from a dress size 30 to a size 14, Malissa told shocked Closer readers last year she hated her new figure.
Losing so much weight had left 5ft 8” Malissa with huge folds of ugly loose skin.
And after suffering a miscarriage at 15 weeks in July 2009 with a previous boyfriend, doctors had dropped a bombshell.
They told Malissa the gastric bypass had left her insides so scarred she would be unlikely to get pregnant again – and if she did, it could be fatal.
But against all the odds Malissa is now four months pregnant by new boyfriend Chris Robottom, 22, a farmer.
“It was a total shock,’ says Malissa, “Chris and I were using condoms so we can’t work out how it happened but we think it was a faulty batch.
“I didn’t even realise I was pregnant until I was almost three months. Since I had the bypass I’ve felt constantly sick. It’s given me a phobia of food because I vomit so much. Bizarrely, I’d lost another stone so pregnancy was the last thing on my mind – and I thought feeling unwell was another side effect.
“But at one of my routine bypass checks, doctors did a blood test and broke the news I was having a baby.”
Yet, although Malissa and Chris – an old friend whom Malissa began dating in June – were initially delighted, their joy was short lived.
“The consultant was blunt,” she recalls, “he said a growing baby was very likely to put pressure on my bypass scars and cause my tummy to rupture. If this happens I would bleed to death.
“And for that reason he recommended I have an abortion.”
It was a devastating blow for the young couple.
But despite the medical advice, Malissa decided to go ahead. She says: “All I’ve ever wanted is to be a mum. When, after having the miscarriage, doctors told me having the bypass had affected my fertility, I was distraught.
“So finding out I was pregnant again seemed a miracle. And even though being pregnant is so dangerous, I’ll do anything to have a child.”
However, her pregnancy has been fraught with difficulty.
As well as suffering constant infections, nausea and diarrhoea – a legacy of scarring caused by the bypass – a 12-month spell of binge drinking has caused problems with her liver.
“When I was really fat I was too ashamed of how I looked to go out,” she confesses, “but after losing all the weight, I made up for lost time.
“While admittedly I hated seeing my saggy body naked, I could wear fashionable clothes at last. I started going clubbing and drinking.
“Often I’d sink 20 vodka shots in one night.”
Malissa, who had to give up her admin job because of illness after her bypass and is now forced to claim benefits, gave up the booze when she met Chris but blood tests have since revealed she’s damaged her liver.
She says: “It’s an extra worry as pregnancy puts further strain on your liver and means I’m having even more tests to ensure my body is coping ok.”
Malissa’s weight problem began as a toddler.
The eldest of four children – she has a sister Charmaine, 14, and brothers Carl, 15 and Aran, 11 while mum Dawn, 47, is separated from Dad Richard, 51, a security guard – by the time she was five, she weighed 4 stones, twice as fat as other girls of her age.
Yet despite visits to nutritionists and counsellors, aged 15, Malissa’s weight had soared to 20 stones. Shockingly, she collapsed with chest pains and was diagnosed with angina, a form of coronary heart disease that usually only affects the elderly who’ve had a lifetime of unhealthy eating.
“Mum did her best. Even when I was at primary school she had stopped buying chocolate bars and replaced takeaways with healthy meals such as spaghetti bolognaise and fruit,” she remembers, “but I was always hungry. I ate double portions and spent any pocket money on sweets.”
In her early teens Malissa also developed a bizarre night-time habit of consuming partially defrosted burgers and chicken nuggets. Her enormous food intake – which included eight king-sized Mars bars a day, ten packets of crisps, endless rounds of ham sandwiches and daily takeaways from the local chippie, meant she was consuming an incredible 15,000 calories a day.
At just 17 and a dress size 30, with a body mass index of 72.4. Doctors believed she might not live to see her 18th birthday.
“Going to sleep at night was especially dangerous because I was so fat lying down crushed my internal organs,” she recalls, “I could barely walk a few metres without gasping for breath and at night I wore an oxygen mask to help me breathe.”
Numerous diets, pills and counselling failed.
Eventually, in January 2008 – and after warning her family the anaesthetic alone could prove fatal – the bypass went ahead at York District Hospital. The six-hour op involved stapling Malissa’s stomach so she couldn’t eat so much and replumbing her digestive system so food wouldn’t be absorbed so easily.
After a week she was allowed home and immediately the weight began to fall off. But strangely, as she became slimmer, depression struck.
“The problem was I always felt ill,” says Malissa, “and then no-one had warned me how saggy and ugly my skin would look or that the NHS would not pay for me to have it removed.”
The sight of her droopy body still upsets her today.
“And with my bump starting to show my tummy looks bigger and wrinklier than than ever,” she says.
She adds for a long time she was too ashamed of her giant wrinkles to let any man see her naked. “But Chris loves me for who I am and thankfully he’s never been bothered by it,” she says.
However, she still regrets having ever had the bypass.
“I’m sure some people will accuse me of being ungrateful and say I should be pleased my life was saved. But the cost has been enormous. I will never eat normally, feel constantly sick and tired and am prone to infections.
“Doctors have also told me I will have to have a caesarean and my baby won’t go to full-term. I feel upset I won’t have a normal birth and worried about what the future holds, especially if my baby ends up being very premature.
“It’s sad as I haven’t been able to enjoy my pregnancy. Instead, my weeks are full of hospital visits and worry that my baby and I will be all right.”
Meanwhile, she and Chris, who still lives with his parents, are busy saving to afford the rent on a home of their own when their baby, due in April, is born.
They don’t know what sex their baby is yet but Malissa has already made one vow.
“My baby won’t ever be eating chocolate or junk food,” she insists, “I am determined he or she won’t ever be fat and suffer as I’ve done.”