An obese mother of seven lost an incredible 23 stone by eating nothing but jelly – but ended up in hospital suffering from malnutrition.
Evridiki Cruikshank, 47, put on weight after becoming depressed when she had a stillborn baby and lost her husband. She ate to dull the pain and ballooned to 32 stone.
She said: "The food wouldn't even touch the sides. I wasn't chewing."
Her weight became life-threatening and in 2010 she had a £22,000 gastric bypass - a 12-hour keyhole surgery operation - and within a year and a half lost the 23 stone.
During that time Evridiki ate just two or three little pots of jelly a day, unable to stomach anything else.
She said: "It was all I could eat. I had malnutrition and ended up in hospital for weeks."
Last year, the mum had a tummy tuck operation at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, Essex.
But she now has swathes of excess skin on her arms and breasts and is desperate for surgery to remove it – something the NHS won't pay for because the procedure is regarded as cosmetic.
She said: "I have gone through hell to get this far. I'm a size 10 but I can't show my arms and my breasts touch the floor. It's like looking at Dot Cotton in the mirror.
"The system isn't right. I'm suffering and I shouldn't have to. Everyone thinks what I have done is amazing, yet I have to carry on fighting. They won't fund surgery because they say it has to be done for medical reasons. My tummy was different because it was hanging and causing a lot of pain."
Evridiki , from Braintree, Essex, who now weighs 10 stone, said many overweight people view gastric bypasses as the answer to weight loss.
She said: "You can't go on a conveyor belt and come out looking like Madonna."
She now has a new partner, Daniel Draper, 32, a bricklayer, and says she is grateful to her children – Pandora, 21; Stephanie, 26; Christopher, 24; Siobhan, 23, Sophia, 21, Shannon, 18, and Jozef, seven, for all their support.
Lisa Harrod-Rothwell, the chairman of Mid Essex Central Eastern Commissioning Support Unit, said: "I can't comment on individual cases, but I can say that some procedures are considered of cosmetic value.
"Making best use of our resources, on behalf of the 390,000 people we serve, means we can only fund procedures and treatments which meet clinical needs.
"As a local GP, I can appreciate some patients will not agree with the decisions we have to make and we are more than happy to discuss our reasons with them.
"In exceptional cases, where a clinical need can be demonstrated, the clinical commissioning group will consider funding on a case-by-case basis."