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Emma Sealey denied excess skin operation funding by the NHS

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A little under 6 years ago, on 13th September 2010, my then girlfriend (now fiancée) Miss Emma Jane Sealey made a decision that was to change her life forever.

Diagnosed at a young age as autistic and suffering from learning difficulties, Emma had to attend a special boarding school for the disabled in Evesham. It was the one crumb of comfort in her life. Her parents drunk heavily and rowed regularly. Their hot tempers often switched to the children and consequently Emma was regularly abused; she hated going back home to Redditch for the weekends. The parents later divorced and Emma lost contact with her father.

During her childhood, one of Emma's best friends who lived locally, was brutally murdered along with the young girl's mother in their home at the hands of the psychotic and schizophrenic father who was later sectioned. This house has now been changed into flats as people who remember or knew of the brutality of these murders, didn't want to live there. This, along with the very harsh family life, meant that Emma started to turn to food for comfort.

Things didn't improve once she left home either. For those who don't know her, Emma's such a kind, warm person who rarely sees the bad in anyone, and there are some who identify this 'vulnerability' in her and abuse it for their gain. After leaving school, Emma met a truly horrible individual who used to beat her, steal from her, abuse her, separate her from her family and basically make her life a misery. This again didn't help with her weight issues, which by this time were becoming more and more of a concern.

Whilst with this man, she fell pregnant. Just before giving birth, Emma's legs started to swell alarmingly, but this man wasn't concerned at all, playing on his PS2 and she had to get a taxi and admit herself into hospital. Her legs were swelling because she was suffering from pre-eclampsia; a potentially life-threatening condition to both mother and baby. Fortunately, Emma gave birth to a beautiful baby daughter, but the whole episode took a lot out of Emma and she suffered from post-natal depression. Because of this, the horrible boyfriend and most importantly, because of family intervention (which was mostly not in favour of Emma due to bitterness and jealousy), Emma's daughter was cruelly taken off her and put into care without Emma even knowing anything about it.

This yet again caused Emma to further turn to food.

She did meet another guy who treated her like the wonderful woman she is, but for one reason or another that didn't work out. During this time, her dad passed away due to alcoholism at the age of 60. Although he was an alcoholic and had been abusive to Emma in the past, she still loved him and regretted losing contact with her father, even though it wasn't her fault (one of her siblings selfishly destroyed letters from him and prevented him from ever contacting any of his other children).

More heartache, more food for comfort.

This is where I come in. I met Emma through online dating at her flat as she didn't want to meet in public due to her size. We'd been chatting online for months beforehand as she was obviously very skeptical of men after some bad previous experiences. When we met, I saw the kindest, warmest, most loving person I'd ever met. I moved into Redditch because of her (a bedsit in the town) and Emma moved to another flat. However, this was another nightmare as the idiot in the flat downstairs used to play very loud booming, pumping music out of 4 foot tall speakers, making Emma's life a misery and further encouraged her to comfort eat. Together, and thanks to the local Environmental Health Officer, we got this neighbour evicted, but again this caused Emma further weight problems.

On 13th September 2010, measuring 5 foot 2 inches and weighing 28st 8lbs (400lbs) Emma, on the advise from someone who was very concerned about her weight, joined Cambridge Weight Plan. She didn't want to have a gastric band fitted, even though her doctor advised it, as importantly she didn't want to overburden the already stretched National Health Service (NHS). Emma had been on several diets before without success, but to cut a long story short, this one worked really well and in just 19 months lost 19st 9lbs (275lbs) and on 17th April 2012 reached her target weight of 8st 13lbs (125lbs).

This was the 2nd biggest weight loss in Cambridge Weight Plan's 30 year history and she has inspired many people all over the world with her weight loss success. Equally important as the weight loss is the fact that she's kept the weight off for over 4 years now, defying the theory that if you lose the weight quickly you'll just as quickly pile it all back on again.

However, her huge weight loss has come at a price. Because she was so big, her skin lost all elasticity and since completing the diet she's left with large amounts of excess skin around the abdomen (called the apron), her buttocks, her thighs and to a lesser extent her arms. She despises the body she's left with and although she loves looking at herself clothed, refuses to see her reflection naked. Her boobs sag too; another part of her body she now hates. 

Despite working so, so hard to lose over two thirds of her own body weight, she's still unhappy with her body and feels like a prisoner. Whereas before she refused to leave her old flat for fear of being mocked, she now has to hide underneath tight, restrictive and uncomfortable shapeware to hide the rolls of excess skin before venturing out.

I have tried to request to the local commissioning group that decide on who to provide the funding for operations on the NHS, but have been turned down every time because they've considered Emma's request of the operation funding to be on 'cosmetic' grounds when it certainly isn't. I did in the past also write to every other commissioning group in the Midlands, but they are all powerless to help and could only advise I put in a request to our local commissioning group with the same result; I feel as if we're going around in circles.

I have also written previously to our local MP Karen Lumley, who said she'd notify this to Parliament, but I don't know how strongly she put Emma's case across, but there was no success here either.

All these problems have affected Emma mentally and, thanks again to more idiots who want to take advantage of my fiancée, has almost been a victim of scammers who have promised to fund her operation, but then we discover they're all lies.

Things came to a head recently when, heavily depressed and believing that no one cares, Emma tried to take her own life. Fortunately, I was there to stop this and we've seen another side to the NHS; fantastic doctors, nurses and the Mental Health Officer who were really helpful.

Emma's currently on anti-depressants and a request has been made for Emma to have a Mental Health Assessment.

I'm still doing all I can to ensure Emma gets this operation, but can I please ask all of you wonderful people associated with to sign a petition to try to get the NHS Commissioning Group and/or the government to understand that Emma's plight isn't just to enhance her looks, but it's to enhance her life. Mentally she's really down and this shouldn't be the case when you consider the massive weight she's lost at her own expense and now she's asking to be helped with 'the final piece of the jigsaw', the powers that be don't seem to care.

I'm sure with your help Emma can find closure in this and no longer be a prisoner in her own body.

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