ABU DHABI // Doctors hope that Eman El Aty will be able to sit upright in a chair within two months – the first time she has been able to move out of her bed in 12 years.
The Egyptian, who weighed 500 kilograms in February this year, is being treated at VPS Burjeel Hospital after being flown from a hospital in India last week on a specially equipped cargo plane.
Doctors hope this milestone in her battle to lose weight will come as a boost to Ms El Aty, 36, although they warn that she faces at least another six months of treatment to bring her weight down to 100kg.
“There is a long road ahead of us,” said Dr Yassin El Shahat, VPS Burjeel Hospital’s chief medical officer.
“Our aim is not the weight. Our aim is to truly rehabilitate this young lady so that she might have a good life, and we are working on this very hard.”
Ms El Aty, whose weight ballooned because of the rare thyroid condition hypothyroidism, arrived in the capital on Thursday weighing 177kg. She has shed 323kg since undergoing complex bariatric operations at Saifee Hospital in Mumbai.
She was put on a special liquid diet in India to reduce her weight enough so that doctors could carry out the operations.
A team of 15 medical experts, paramedics and intensive-care nurses from VPS Healthcare travelled to India to prepare her for the four-hour flight.
Ms El Aty’s condition is stable after she arrived suffering from a fever.
She also had a severe urinary tract infection, bed rashes and aortic regurgitation – the leaking of an aortic valve in the heart, causing blood to flow in the wrong direction.
“This is a very important finding and we need to address this immediately,” Dr El Shahat said. “Our team has decided to go about it with conservative management.”
Her treatment, which is being provided without charge, is part of VPS Healthcare and Burjeel Hospital’s corporate social responsibility programme.
Doctors have not ruled out more operations, although non-invasive options will be tried first. When her weight is brought under control she faces extensive physiotherapy.
“We will offer Eman complete rehabilitation until all of her health parameters are under control and she is able to lead a good quality of life,” said Dr Shajir Gaffar, chief executive of VPS Healthcare.
Before being flown to India in February, Ms El Aty had not left her hometown of Alexandria for 20 years.
Her family told doctors that as a child she suffered from elephantiasis, a condition that causes the limbs and other body parts to swell, leaving her almost immobile.
Ms El Aty is unable to speak properly and is partially paralysed. She suffered a stroke and had other ailments caused by her weight, including diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and sleep deprivation.
The Ministry of Interior has issued Ms El Aty and her sister, Shaimaa Selim, long-term courtesy visas.