Man dies after complications from gastric band surgery
By Joanne Leow/Valarie Tan, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 01 August 2006 1825 hrs
SINGAPORE : A 31-year-old man died on Monday following complications after undergoing gastric band surgery.
Ross Tay is believed to be the first person in Singapore to have died from such complications.
He had the procedure performed at Alexandra Hospital, which is a leading institution for such surgical weight management procedures.
Also known as lap band surgery, it is only available to people who are very overweight and who have not responded to changes in diet, exercise regimen and medication.
Mr Tay, a martial arts instructor, weighed 176 kilogrammes and was diabetic.
His family told Channel NewsAsia he first went for gastric band surgery in March this year and suffered an allergic reaction to the band.
He had it removed days after but was advised to try the procedure again in July.
This time, surgeons found too much scar tissue to install the band.
When he returned home, he complained that he was feeling unwell and on July 29, was readmitted with a high fever.
Doctors operated on him a third time and removed infected tissue and his spleen.
Mr Tay then fell into a coma and continued to bleed internally, so he was operated on a fourth time.
He died on Monday from complications including blood poisoning.
Mr Tay had just got married in March; now, his family members expect the medical bills to come up to some S$20,000.
They say they are grateful for the staff who tried to save Mr Tay in the last days of his life, but wonder if his death could have been prevented.
Said his brother Melvin Tay, "Public awareness - we just want to let others know this cannot be 100 percent. It was like a very simple operation, we thought; we didn't expect that it would lead to today's stage."
Gastric band surgery is a keyhole procedure that involves putting a band around the upper part of the stomach to reduce appetite.
It is a measure of last resort, and the Health Ministry only allows it for people with a body mass index over 32.
Doctors here say the risks from gastric band surgery are low compared to other weight management surgery like stomach stapling; in fact, the mortality rate is 1 in 2,000, or 0.04 percent.
Still, doctors say that as with any surgery there are risks
As for this case, Alexandra Hospital says it cannot comment until the coroner's report, which is expected to be out in three to four months.
Alexandra Hospital has performed some 300 gastric band surgeries since 2001, with some patients losing up to 70 kilogrammes from the procedure.
Patients who opt for this procedure have to go through a six-month preparation period which involves tests and counselling.
The Health Promotion Board says the number of obese Singaporeans has increased from 6 percent in 1998 to 6.9 percent in 2004.
Of these, 16 percent are at high risk of developing obesity-related diseases. - CNA /ct