‘I used to be 34 stone- now I’m dying of anorexia’

As 'Britain’s fattest teenager,' 34st Malissa Jones hit the headlines when, at 17, she became the youngest ever person in the UK to have a gastric bypass.


by Closer staff |
Published on

Originally published: 3 May 2011

However, ongoing complications with the irreversible surgery have left Malissa with health problems that mean she could now be just months from death.

In an exclusive Closer interview last December, 20-year-old Malissa shared her excitement that she had unexpectedly fallen pregnant with farmer boyfriend Chris Robottom’s baby. But heartbreakingly, Harry died shortly after being born 13 weeks early this February. Doctors revealed Malissa’s inability to eat properly led to her baby being malnourished. Now she’s been diagnosed as anorexic.


'I'm too thin. My body shocks me'

Speaking from her home in Selby, North Yorkshire, in the month her baby was due, Malissa says: 'The last six months have been hell. Losing Harry was devastating.

I was so poorly, I didn’t hold him before he died. I don’t think I’ll get over it.'

Revealing that she developed a food phobia after her gastric surgery, she adds: 'Food made me physically sick. I had to force myself to eat. When I got pregnant, it got worse. Six months into my pregnancy, I’d lost 3st.

'After losing Harry I weighed 10st,' she adds. 'Now I weigh 8st – around 2 st of that is excess skin. Doctors say I’ll be dead in six months if I don’t put on weight.'

Yet just three years ago Malissa was facing death because she was so obese.

Then, 5ft 8 Malissa was a size 30 and eating 15,000 calories a day had given her a body mass index of 72.4 – nearly three times the healthy range of 18.5-25. She had angina, a form of coronary disease that usually only affects the elderly, and at night she wore an oxygen mask to help her breathing, because when she laid down, her bulk crushed her internal organs.

Numerous diets, pills and counselling all failed, so in January 2008 she had a £10,000 NHS gastric bypass. The op involved stapling her stomach to make it smaller and then re-routing her digestive system so food wouldn’t be absorbed easily.

Afterwards, Malissa could only eat tiny amounts of puréed veg. Losing up to 2st a month, she was 12st 12lbs and a size 16 by March 2009.

Worryingly, Malissa struggled with health problems stemming from the surgery, including sickness and constant infections.

Last summer, Malissa and boyfriend Chris, 22, were surprised but delighted to learn she was pregnant, even though they had been using condoms.

But their joy was short-lived when Malissa’s consultant advised her to have a termination, telling her that her gastric scarring meant carrying a baby could kill her.

'He worried my growing womb could put pressure on my scars and cause my stomach to rupture,' she says.

The couple went ahead with the pregnancy but as it continued, Malissa struggled to eat enough for her and the baby.

'My blood sugars were low because I wasn't eating enough. But I was hopefuly the baby would be OK'

Four months into her pregnancy, she’d lost around 2∂st, going down to 10st 4lbs, and her health worsened.

'I was being sick 12 times a day,' she says. 'The baby was fine on scans, but my body wasn’t coping.'

Over the next few weeks, Malissa was in hospital with liver problems. Then she fell into a diabetic coma.

'My blood sugars were low because I wasn’t eating enough,' she says. 'But I was hopeful the baby would be OK.'

But at six months pregnant, Malissa’s ankles began to swell. In hospital, doctors diagnosed septicaemia and liver failure as she fell in and out of consciousness.

She says: 'It was a race to deliver Harry by Caesarean. My body was packing up and doctors thought we’d both die. I bled so much, I needed nine transfusions.'

Tragically, 16oz Harry died 57 minutes after being born.

Malissa can’t recall his birth. It was only the next day when she came round to see her mum crying that she realised Harry had died.

'Chris and I were heartbroken,' Malissa says. 'I fell back into a coma for nearly three weeks and when I came to, I was devastated again. All I’d ever wanted was to be a mum.'

Malissa now treasures a memory box with a lock of her son’s hair and some photos in.

Then, a week before she was discharged, doctors told Malissa she was anorexic.

She now faces a battle for survival. Revealing she eats three cooked carrots, two pieces of parsnip and a mashed roast potato each day – around 300 calories, when she was advised to eat between 500-1,000 – Malissa, who is also suffering from hair loss, says: “Chris tries to tempt me to eat. I’m not deliberately starving myself but right now I’d rather die than force myself to eat.

'I’m too thin. My body shocks me. But swallowing is painful. Eating a tiny amount gives me stomach cramps or makes me sick.

'My consultant says if I continue like this, I only have six months to live. I’ll most likely die of a heart attack, so I must persevere with eating. I’m trying, but it’s so hard.'

Malissa, who claims sickness benefits, now wishes she’d never had the operation.

'I spend much of my day so exhausted, I sleep. I would urge anyone wanting surgery to lose weight healthily. I wish I had,' she says. 'Surgery can have consequences you might never have imagined.'

Clinical psychologist Dr Funke Baffour says: 'There would have been psychological reasons for Malissa’s obesity that a gastric band would not have dealt with. It’s not surprising she’s swapped one emotional relationship with food for another. Perhaps subconsciously Malissa is so afraid of becoming obese again, she’s stopping herself from eating.'

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