Woman's Friends Pay for Weight-Loss Surgery

ByABC News via logo
April 28, 2004, 8:10 AM

S P A R K S, Nev., April 28 -- Erin Jones Myrick tried every diet plan and pill before a doctor finally told the 32-year-old nail salon owner that her nearly 400-pound weight problem was going to send her to an early grave.

"My doctor told me I was going to die," said Myrick on ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "He looked at me and said 'You are going to live maybe another 5 or 10 years at the rate you're going.'"

After failing to lose the weight on her own for years, Myrick realized she would die young if she didn't take serious measures. The young woman was already suffering from the crippling effects of arthritis and was at high risk for developing heart disease and diabetes.

"It's very clear that people with her [Myrick's] degree of morbid obesity have a much shortened life expectancy," said Dr. Kent Sasse, Myrick's Nevada-based surgeon. "She was an example of someone who, while very young, was looking at a life of increasing medical problems," he said.

When Myrick agreed that surgery would be the only real solution to her desperate case, she turned to her insurance company. When her repeated requests for coverage were denied, despite letters from her doctor that she would die without it, Myrick's spirit was temporarily broken.

"I was disgusted, I was saddened. It was like another slap in the face," Myrick said. "I said, 'well, you'll be paying for my hospital bills because I can't walk. You'll be paying for wheelchairs, you'll be paying for my oxygen tanks.'"

Myrick said she became depressed and discouraged as she realized that she could wait forever for the insurance company to come around while she continued to struggle.

"There was a lot of things I couldn't do. I couldn't go to movies. I couldn't sit in a booth at a restaurant. I couldn't go through a revolving door because I was afraid I would get stuck. That was very scary," Myrick said.

While Myrick was frustrated, at 390 pounds she feared her battle with morbid obesity would end in death if she didn't quickly take matters into her own hands.