Saskatoon's Luke Deitner hopes to shed 1/2 his 600 pounds
Fundraising campaign underway to raise money for bariatric surgery
Saskatoon's Luke Deitner is five feet eight, weighs 600 pounds, has endured a lifetime of ridicule and is worried he will never live a normal life.
People on the street yell insults at him and when he walks into a restaurant, he can hear the snide comments, he says.
"It kind of gets to me," Deitner, 21, told Morning Edition host Sheila Coles on Wednesday.
For several months, his condition has kept him at his home. He's suffered mental health issues but also limb numbness and other physical manifestations of his obesity.
Finally, he decided to reach out and ask for help.
It came in the form of family and friends who have just launched a crowdfunding campaign to help him get bariatric surgery. That's surgery where the stomach is partially removed, stapled or constrained with rubber bands so that the patient feels fuller after smaller meals.
It's been successful elsewhere in allowing severely obese people to lose weight quickly.
The road to 600 pounds was not travelled overnight. It started early. When Deitner was in Kindergarten, he weighed more than 100 pounds.
As he grew older, he thought he was invincible — that he could eat anything he wanted and it wouldn't put his health in jeopardy.
"I was reckless, eating massive portions all the time," he said.
He tried dieting and exercising and pills, but nothing worked. That leaves him with surgery.
He's aware that some people think taxpayers shouldn't pay for weigh-loss surgery, but he likens it to the case of a lifelong smoker who still has his cancer surgery covered by the province. His obesity, too, is a life-threatening condition, he says.
Only $600 had been pledged to Deitner's campaign as of Wednesday morning, but the goal is to reach $30,000.
It's not clear if Saskatchewan Health will pay for the procedure, which could be done in Brazil. If they don't, out-of-pocket expenses could reach $40,000, the campaign organizers says.
Deitner says his goal is to lose 50 per cent of his weight.
He said he's grateful for all the people who've supported him, both with money and with words of support.
"It's really touched my heart," he said.