14/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Mum Died After Weight-Loss Surgery To Help Her Have A Baby

Ross Parry

A mum died following weight-loss surgery she had so that she could have a baby.

Joanne Slater, 38, died eight years later from an illness doctors believe was triggered by the operation.

Joanne, from Stannington, Sheffield,
had suffered three miscarriages and tried dieting unsuccessfully before having a last resort operation in 2005 when she reached 23st.

She had a gastric bypass to control a hormone imbalance, which medics thought caused her to gain weight and prevented her from getting pregnant.

At first the results were impressive and Joanne lost half her body weight before giving birth to Lily-Mai, who is now aged four.

But she later developed serious nutritional deficiencies as well as a rare and deadly listeria infection discovered in her blood when she was admitted to intensive care at the Northern General Hospital.

Joanne went into cardiac arrest brought on by pneumonia and suffered devastating brain damage which led to the decision to switch off her life-support machine earlier this month.

Joanne's devastated husband, Michael, 47, said her death highlighted the potential risk involved with bariatric surgery.

He told the local paper: "When Joanne had her operation, it was still relatively new and doctors are now finding more patients developing problems further down the line.

"It's difficult - if she'd never had the operation we'd never have had Lily-Mai."

Joanne met her husband when they worked together at a care home in Endcliffe, Sheffield. The couple tried for a baby for years.

Michael said: "We'd almost given up hope. You name the diet, Joanne had tried it. She had hormone problems and was given the opportunity to have an operation."

A gastric by-pass makes the stomach smaller, meaning patients feel full more quickly and reduces the amount of calories absorbed by the bowel.

Joanne had the procedure on the NHS at Thornbury Hospital, Sheffield, in 2005.

Michael said: "She did very well initially, it couldn't have gone better. She was bright and bubbly, the life and soul of the party."

As Joanne slimmed down the couple took up active pastimes such as dancing and walking, and went on exotic holidays, including a trip to Africa in 2006 the same year they were married.

Lily-Mai was born three months prematurely in 2009.

Michael said: "Joanne was so proud. She was fantastic, everything you would want in a mum. But unfortunately her health got worse."

Joanne's weight loss became too extreme and she complained of muscle pains and tiredness.

Doctors prescribed supplements for a lack of nutrients such as copper and vitamin D, thought to be a side effect of the surgery, but her health continued to decline and she developed a rare and deadly listeria infection in her blood.

Michael said: "The listeria really wiped her out. I asked the consultants if they had any idea how it got there and they said no. It's a rare infection, they could only say it was probably related to the surgery."

She spent Christmas in hospital and went into cardiac arrest on New Year's Eve.

Doctors managed to revive her but her brain was severely damaged due to a lack of oxygen.

Joanne's parents Rita and David and her brother Doyle gathered at her bedside when she died on January 3.

Her funeral was held last Wednesday at Christ Church Stannington followed by a burial at Crookes Cemetery.

Donations were collected for baby charity Tommy's and future fund raising events have been planned.