Excess problems after 121kg loss
JONATHAN Shields's family remortgaged their home so he could pay for life-saving lapband surgery and have a second chance at life.
Now that Mr Shields, 27, has lost an incredible 121kg, he said he felt like a new person.
But he is left with the constant and painful reminder of his past – 25kg of excess skin still hanging from his body.
Mr Shields, who weighed 230kg at his heaviest, said raising $10,000 for surgery to remove the skin was a hurdle on his way to better health and his dream of becoming a Salvation Army minister.
“The skin is painful and uncomfortable,” Mr Shields said.
“It gives me back problems and it pulls and hurts my shoulders.”
Mr Shields had been waiting for a lapband for three years, when he was told in 2005 that funding cuts would mean he could not get the surgery.
He was also told he had six months left to live if he did nothing.
A few months later, after his family home was remortgaged to pay for the $11,000 operation, Mr Shields was one of the first people to get lapband surgery in Bundaberg, an operation that has transformed his life.
“I used to get laughed at and spat at,” Mr Shields said.
“People were quite horrible and I had a social phobia at one stage, but now I can walk down the street with a smile on my face.”
Mr Shields's mum Lynn said it had been a tough few years for the family.
“The surgery was his last chance,” she said.
Bundaberg woman Glennis Devlin has known Mr Shields since he way a boy and is spearheading a campaign to raise the money for surgery.
“We're looking for anyone or groups in town who would be willing to help us fundraise or donate,” she said.
“I'd love to see this all over and done with for Jonathan. He is a lovely, thoughtful guy and he deserves all the help he can get.”
A market stall will be held on October 30 at the Salvation Army Citadel, Targo Street, with proceeds going to Mr Shields's surgery.
To donate or help fundraise, call Mrs Devlin on 4155 2455 or donate to The Salvation Army Bundaberg Jonathan Shields Appeal at the Westpac bank.