Exec goes under knife for obesity to save liver

MUMBAI: Thirty-two-year-old Nikhil Joshi’s (name changed) story reads like a medical thriller. At 136 kg, the six-ft-tall marketing executive underwent bariatric surgery at Breach Candy Hospital last week for a grave reason rather than the usual aesthetic one to slim down: he is preparing for a liver transplant.

A resident of Alibaug, Joshi realized that his excess weight was in some ways related to the liver problem that doctors had been unable to diagnose since he was just a few years old. “My liver is cirrhotic and I have had liver biopsies twice in my life, the first time when I was 12,” he said from his bed in Breach Candy where bariatric surgeon Sanjay Borude operated on him.

“It was challenging to operate on Joshi because he had many varices (dilated blood vessels). We were worried about bleeding throughout the two-hour operation,” said Borude. Moreover, Joshi has a rare blood group of O negative. “Fortunately, he did not require any blood transfusion because there was a minimum blood loss.”

Last year, while working in Delhi, Joshi felt he was suffering from short-term memory loss. The Delhi doctors put him through a battery of tests and found lesions on his liver that they diagnosed as liver cancer and recommended a transplant.

The damning medical diagnosis was, “Your life depends on the race between your obesity and the cancer in your liver.”

Joshi decided to meet Borude in order to lose weight so that he would be in the right size to receive a donation of a normal-sized liver. Joshi should be able to lose 10 kg within a month and stabilize at 80 kg within a year, Borude said.

There is another silver lining since Joshi’s return to Mumbai. A Breach Candy consultant who checked on Joshi felt that he is probably not suffering from cancer. “But, given his cirrhosis, he is likely to need a transplant some time in the future. So, undergoing a bariatric surgery is going to help him,” said the doctor who didn’t want to be named.

The topsy-turvy ride that Joshi and his mother, Asha (name changed), have endured for the last three decades seems to continue. “My younger son died when he was five with complications arising out of budd chiari (caused by blocked vein of the liver), but so far we have not got a final reason as such for my elder son’s liver cirrhosis. At present, he is doing well after the surgery,” Asha said.

Doctors, after conducting tests on Nikhil Joshi, found lesions on his liver. They diagnosed the problem as liver cancer and recommended a transplant