Doctors leading the care of the world’s former heaviest woman, Eman Abd El Aty, have spoken of their shock at the sudden deterioration in her health that led to her death on Monday.
El Aty, 36, had been receiving extensive rehabilitation treatment in Abu Dhabi at Burjeel Hospital but she died from complications surrounding her condition.
The Egyptian suffered a rare thyroid condition that drastically altered her metabolism, resulting in her weight ballooning to 500kg. That led to a multitude of complex health conditions that damaged her heart, kidney and respiratory system and which, ultimately, led to her death at 4.35am.
“All of the staff are upset and very disappointed,” said Dr Nabil Debouni, medical director of Burjeel Hospital.
“Eman’s sister was with her all of the time, right until the end. We are taking care of the family; our responsibility doesn’t end with the patient.
“Her problem was not just obesity, as she also had serious comorbid-related health conditions, with her heart and kidneys.
“Her health suddenly began to deteriorate and finally ended in this drastic result. It was not just a result of one cause.
“There were also respiratory problems, and they culminated in this tragic event. The treatment she was having continued in the same way, and nothing was different."
In May, El Aty had been transferred from a hospital in Mumbai, India, where she had undergone extensive bariatric surgery, helping her shed about 300kg.
Saifee Hospital was later accused of using her case as a publicity stunt to boost medical tourism in the country.
A row erupted between Eman’s family and the hospital and VPS Healthcare offered to take up her rehabilitation in Abu Dhabi at Burjeel.
She was transferred to the UAE via a specially chartered Medivac flight and began her recovery, with VPS Healthcare taking care of the costs.
A team of 20 healthcare staff were assigned to her programme, including nutritionists, physiotherapists and psychologists.
Specialists were called in to manage a raft of complicated related health concerns, with experts from America and Switzerland consulted over the possibility of El Aty walking again – something she had not done for years.
Doctors were aiming to reduce her weight further, to less than 100kg, with more operations planned later this year.
She was making progress until her condition began to suddenly deteriorate on Friday.
“Eman was improving every day and was getting well,” said Dr Debouni.
“She had developed a good relationship with her team during her time with us, was beginning to communicate more and more, and responding well to the physiotherapy and speech therapy she had been having.
“Her diet was right, and nothing could have been done differently – so we were all very surprised when she started to go downhill over the previous three to four days.
“Eman was not in a very good state on Sunday, and then the event took place on Monday morning.”
Her vital signs had started to deteriorate, including her respiration, blood pressure and electrolytes in her blood and urea.
Doctors said there was a serious issue with her kidney function and oxygen saturation levels.
“As physicians, we know from continuous monitoring of patients when things are not getting better and it is serious,” said Dr Debouni.
“Eman was very peaceful at the end, and was not in any pain. She went very smoothly.
“All of the staff that have been working with her are upset, as they have become very attached to her and have been working hard to achieve the best possible outcome for Eman.
“I have had just an hour’s sleep; it has been exhausting for everyone.
“We are now working on the logistics of getting Eman back to Egypt as soon as possible to be with her family.”