World's Fattest Man Needs Lifesaving Surgery

Paul Mason is currently the world?s heaviest man

Weighing in at 980 pounds, Paul Mason is currently the world's heaviest man. At the age of 48, the former mechanic and postal worker is now virtually immobile, and doctors are trying to figure out how to transport him from his home in Ipswich, England, to a specialized medical center 150 miles away for emergency weight-loss treatment and a possible operation.

The move may require a specially reinforced ambulance or a helicopter airlift.

Back in 2002, when he needed to go to the hospital for a hernia operation, Mason had to be taken out of his home by forklift. At the time, he reportedly weighed 784 pounds.

In the years since, his weight has fluctuated. It is now at an all-time high.

Mason is said to have an eating addiction. He consumes around 20,000 calories a day -- compared to the average adult male, who needs 2,500.

The British newspaper The Sun reported Mason wanted to hold the world record, and it spoke to a neighbor named Sue Horne: "Paul's a really nice bloke and seems happy despite everything. I feel sorry for him."

His sister Janet said his compulsive eating had torn the family apart and depleted its savings.

"I still love Paul, but what he does just breaks my heart," she told the paper.

The Sun said Mason needed seven caregivers, working in three round-the-clock shifts. They cooked his meals, cleaned up after him and helped him turn every three hours to prevent bed sores.

British Government to Pay Bills?

There have been reports that all Mason's medical care will be funded by Britain's state-funded National Health Service, but a spokeswoman at NHS Suffolk (the county that includes Ipswich) would not confirm or deny that, citing patient confidentiality.

World's Heaviest Man

"We have a duty to protect the confidentiality of all of our patients. As such, we cannot discuss individual cases. The patient does not wish to make any further comment and requests he is left alone," Dr. Andrew Hassan, medical director for NHS Suffolk, said today in a statement.

"We always put the needs of our patients first," said Hassan. "As such, we have a responsibility to provide the right care for all our patients while ensuring their safety and dignity."

Until recently, Manuel Uribe of Mexico held the title of world's heaviest man, at one point topping 1,200 pounds. But Uribe managed to shed hundreds of pounds with the help of doctors, leaving Mason at the top of an unenviable list.

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