At almost 200kg, 15-year-old Haumoana Kopua is believed to be New Zealand’s heaviest teenager. He is already showing early signs of serious diseases, but his family have embarked on countless failed diet and exercise regimes and they feel as though they are out of options. Could surgery be the answer? Inside New Zealand: The 200kg Kid finds out on Thursday, August 7th at 9:30pm on 3.
At 14-years-old, Haumoana hit 190kg. Now too big to exercise, he is unable to bend over to pick up a ball, and even walking is difficult. His family fear he could be bedridden within a decade and Haumoana’s, surgeon Dr. Rob Fris believes “medical intervention is his only chance at a normal life.”
Gastric banding has never been performed on someone as young as Haumoana in New Zealand. He could lose up to 100kg and be half his size, but only if he’s prepared to make big changes.
Only five teenagers in the last five years have been funded for obesity surgery by the Ministry of Health due to very limited public funding. However Haumoana’s family need to raise $15,000 for the operation to happen privately otherwise he could be on the waiting list for years.
Surgery for the morbidly obese is considered an extreme intervention by the MoH, but Dr Fris believes that in the long run they save the system money. Obesity related costs to the health system are between $450 million and $500 million per year, making the cost of an operation seem comparatively small. As Dr Fris advocates, “It’s not a cosmetic operation. It’s an operation to save lives.”
Inside New Zealand: The 200kg Kid learns the fate of Haumoana on Thursday, August 7th at 9:30pm on 3.