A woman who weighs nearly 80 stone is leaving her home for the first time in 25 years to have life-saving weight reduction surgery.
Iman Ahmad Abdulati, 36 – who tips the scales at over half a tonne (over 78.7 stone) – is to fly to India from her home in Alexandria, Egypt, after one of the world’s leading bariatric surgeons volunteered to treat her.
But her operation was almost grounded before it began after immigration officials at India’s embassy in Cairo refused to believe Iman – believed to be the fattest woman in the world – was too big to visit to make her visa application.
Indian law requires visa applicants to allow immigration police to take their fingerprints.
They only backed down when surgeon Dr Muffazzal Lakdawala used Twitter to contact India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to ask for help.
His tweet read: ‘Ma’am, Eman Ahmed (Egypt) 500kgs requested me 2 save her pls help me get her a medical visa as refused thru normal process @SushmaSwaraj’
He explained later: ‘Iman can’t move because of her condition, and due to her weight, it is near impossible to move her.’
He added: ‘But the Indian Embassy in Cairo wasn’t ready to accept it.
‘The officers thought that the family was bluffing and kept asking the family members to bring Iman to the embassy to scan her fingerprint.
‘They didn’t pay any heed to the family’s requests and, as a result, Iman’s visa was rejected.’
The Minister replied to the doctor’s tweet immediately and the visa request was granted. She said: ‘Thanks for bringing this to my notice. We will definitely help her.’
Now, however, the medic is struggling with the mammoth problem of getting Iman to Mumbai this week for a series of operations that could last a year.
He told local media he plans to – at first – use a bariatric balloon to fill up part of Iman’s digestive tract.
The doctor reckons she could lose as much as 400kg (62 stone) in two years.
He said: ‘Due to her heavy weight, we can’t bring her in a normal plane, so we are trying to arrange a private chartered flight instead.’
The plane will have to be refitted with a reinforced bed because Iman’s weight makes it impossible for her to sit upright in a chair.
At home, she relies on her mother and sister Chaymaa Abdulati to help her with everyday tasks like eating, getting dressed, washing and going to the bathroom
Her family says she was born weighing 5kg (11lb) and was diagnosed with elephantiasis – a parasitic infection that causes extreme swelling in a sufferer’s limbs and arms.
A cerebral stroke at age 11 left her bedridden, and – unable to support her ballooning weight – Iman became a prisoner in her own home where her weight continued to increase.
Dr Lakdawala has stressed how dangerous the operations could be for her and how life threatening ‘doing nothing’ might be.
He said: ‘Her life is at risk. She is a living time bomb.
‘We have to take special precautions in this case to ensure there are no problems in the lung or the risk of a blood clot.