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10 Aug, 2009 05:31

Heavy burden of being obese: overweight and undertreated

A man from the Russian Far East, weighing over 300 kilos, is not getting the medical treatment he needs because he can't get to the hospital. He developed a weight disorder after taking drugs for meningitis.

Dmitry Shaposhnikov now weighs 340 kilos which is 660 pounds or over 47 stone. Hospitals in the city of Khabarovsk don't have an ambulance capable of transporting him for treatment.

Basic movement, and even talking, takes a huge effort: it's a struggle for the 40 year old just to walk around his small apartment. Everyday tasks – even sleeping in bed – pose serious challenges.

“A doctor came to examine me, and I could not fit into a blood pressure cuff,” Dmitry said. “She examined my heart rate and that’s it. She took my temperature and that’s it. Nothing else.”

Dmitry developed serious weight problems after hormonal treatment for meningitis which he contracted at the age of 16.

Not long ago, when his heart-rate began accelerating, doctors said he needed special transport to hospital because he couldn't fit into an ambulance. However, living only on state support, he couldn't afford it.

“He did not fit into the ambulance. So they told us that we were to call the Emergencies Ministry. One has to pay for this service, but I don’t have the money for that.”

Dmitry's health is worsening, but his special needs mean that he needs special care, which he says he's not getting.

Local medial officials don't want to talk about the specifics of Dmitry's tragic story, or why he can't be transported to the local hospital for treatment.

“We cannot comment on the patient’s state because of patient confidentiality,” said Natalya Shemyakina, head doctor at the local hospital.

Officials say they're looking into ways of treating Dmitry in his apartment, but meanwhile he's forced to wait at home as his medical problems mount.