Mirror Online: LONDON, England – A brother and sister who weighed a combined 40st are emerging from lockdown a lot lighter after going under the knife together.
Siobhan and Alexander McDonald were so worried their weight would put them at risk during the pandemic that they flew to Turkey to have gastric sleeves fitted – at a cost of £2,800 each.
Since then, the pair have lost nearly 16st between them.
Siobhan, 27, has gone from a size 22 to a size 12 and dropped from 16st 4lb to 11st 2lb, while 22-year-old Alexander, who once wore size XXXXL clothes, now has a 32in waist and has gone from 24st to 13st 2lb.
Siobhan said: “During the first lockdown, Alexander was told he might have to shield because he was at risk if he got COVID-19.
“One of us joked that we’d have to lose weight together. I’d already done a lot of research about surgery, so in May I brought up the idea of us doing it at the same time.”
Within days, the siblings had booked in for surgery at the Ekol Hastanesi hospital in Izmir.
They flew out for the operation – in which surgeons removed 80% of their stomachs – just six weeks later.
Hailing the procedures a huge success, Siobhan said: “We’re coming out of lockdown as new people. I’ve got my confidence back.
“When friends and family see us – especially those who haven’t seen us for months – they can’t believe their eyes. We look like different people.
“The surgery was much cheaper than in Britain. Yes, it was a lot of money to pay and there were of course risks, but we were both sick of being the fat siblings.”
And Alexander, who has never had a girlfriend, has found the courage to join Tinder.
He said: “I didn’t care much about my appearance but now I enjoy buying clothes and posting pictures on social media.
“I’ve been to loads of theme parks without worrying about whether I’ll fit on the rides.”
The siblings started to pile on the weight while they were still at school.
Pre-pandemic, Siobhan would comfort eat carb-heavy meals and snacks, along with three cans of cola a day – and just painting her toenails would leave her out of breath.
Alexander would also binge-eat takeaways but feared his “at risk” status would lead to him losing his job as an apprentice joiner.
Siobhan said: “We had a really tough childhood and experienced a lot of trauma. My sister died when I was seven, then our dad died in a motorbike accident when I was 12, which led to us both turning to food.”
The pair were both bullied for their weight at school and while Siobhan was constantly asked if she was pregnant, Alexander adopted the “funny guy attitude” to help him cope with the cruel taunts.
“I found it was harder for people to slag me off if I was already slagging myself,” he said. “There were a few occasions where I ended up fighting due to defending myself about my weight but, for the most part, I just kept making fun of myself so others couldn’t.
“I look back on it now and realise how unhealthy it was as it led to me seeking comfort in food and eating my feelings rather than dealing with my issues.”
After leaving school, Siobhan met her partner Euan and they welcomed baby Myla in 2013. But as a busy new mum, she found it even harder to eat healthily.
“I was munching on sweets in the car after dropping off my daughter at school then I’d get into work, hungry, and reach for the biscuits and cakes,” Siobhan said.
“I’d then have a yoghurt, a chocolate bar and a packet of crisps for my afternoon snack and I was drinking two to three cans of cola per day.
“At one point, I was going to counselling for my comfort eating and I was late for one of my appointments because I stopped to get a double cheeseburger.
“I hated how I looked. I remember I was on a night out once and a lady came up to me in the toilets and told me I was too fat for my partner and that I needed to lose weight or he was going to leave me.
“I was so embarrassed. Inside, my world came crashing down.”
Since having her op, Siobhan says her life has totally changed and she is now able to keep up with her daughter. But the surgery is not for the faint-hearted.
Siobhan and Alexander, of Prestwick, Ayrshire, flew home three days after having their gastric sleeves fitted.
They spent the next two weeks consuming only clear liquid, then two weeks of puréed food, consisting of baked beans, mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs. That was followed by a further two weeks of soft food.
The pair now have varied diets with high-protein meals such as porridge for breakfast, chicken salads for lunch and wholesome dinners with vegetables.
Siobhan and Alexander’s mum, Hazel Ann McDonald, told how she tried different approaches to help the siblings lose weight when they were growing up but nothing seemed to work.
The 53-year-old said: “When they first talked about going to Turkey, I was terrified. But I’m so proud of the outcome. The change in them both is amazing. They are so much more confident, happy and healthier.”
- Top Feature Photo by Daily Record