Fares Yousef Ahmed is a 21-year-old student at Qatar University. He is slight, at 57kg, but he hasn’t always been. When he was just 19 years old, and weighing 120kg, Fares underwent surgery to have 80% of his stomach removed, in an effort to lose weight and prevent himself from becoming diabetic.
Diabetes has become one of the most prevalent health issues in Qatar with over 18% of the population estimated to be diabetic, compared to a global average of 8-9%. Qatar provides an excellent standard of public healthcare to its citizens, with most healthcare being completely free or heavily subsidised.
The surgery that Fares underwent is considered highly risky, and in Australia it is used as a last resort for the morbidly obese. Fares discusses his decision to undergo the surgery in the interview below.
What motivated you to undergo weight-loss surgery?
I was seeing myself and I am too fat. I tried to diet. I tried going to the gym and not drinking sodas, not eating a lot of chocolates, or a lot of sweets. I did this for three or two months. I lost 10 kilos. But after that. I travelled, I came back, I didn’t go to the gym and I ate sweets again. I gained back double the weight I lost. I’m not happy. I can’t do diets, I can’t go the gym. I have back pain. I have to go the hospital. It was the only option.
How did you know about the surgery and that it was a potential option?
One of my cousins had the operation. He had diabetes and after the operation it was gone. He doesn’t have diabetes now. When I saw him his body was two of me, now he has a good body, no diabetes. He’s healthy, he looks good now.
How much did the surgery cost?
The operation was covered by insurance. It costs here $50,000 Qatari Rial (about $17,200 AUD). The insurance pay it, they pay everything. In Jordan, other countries, it is around $20,000 Rial ($6,800 AUD). But the insurance doesn’t cover that.
Did you approach your doctor with the idea or was it recommended to you?
I told the doctor that I want to do the operation. He [asked] me why? Do you have diabetes or something. I told him no, but I have back pain. And he saw the sugar levels in my blood and told me you are about to have diabetes. If you do it now, it is better for you. No one agreed with this. I didn’t tell anyone until the day of the operation. My mum told me no, you will die don’t do this. And at the hospital where [I went] a lot of people died from this operation or got infections.
How did you justify having the surgery when there are so many risks?
If something will happen; it will happen today. If God wants something to happen to me; it will happen, with the operation or without it. So I just did it.