22/06/2015 06:41 BST | Updated 22/06/2015 07:59 BST

Morbidly Obese Couple Save £10K For His 'N' Hers Gastric Bands So 'NHS Doesn't Foot The Bill'

An obese couple with a combined weight of almost 42 stone (600lbs) have pledged to spend their life savings on matching gastric bands in order to save the NHS money.

Chris and Isabella Wray said that they are the only ones responsible for their weight gain and, as a result, don't want the taxpayer to pay for the weight loss surgery.

isabella and chris wray

Chris and Isabella Wray

Isabella, 31, weighs 19-and-a-half stone while Chris, aged 41, tips the scales at 21-and-a-half stone.

The couple, who have five children between them, will both go under the knife next month at a private hospital near their home in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

The weight-reducing ops will cost them £5,000 each privately but they have both vowed to foot the bill themselves.

Isabella, an accounts administrator, said that she had struggled with her weight throughout most of her adult life and found it even more difficult to lose weight after each pregnancy.

"Chris had always been a yo-yo dieter and he was slim when I met him, but we bonded over our love of food," she revealed.

"When we started dating he would take me to Michelin-star restaurants, and we loved browsing food festivals and street food markets together."

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Chris, a software engineer who has been with Isabella for three years, has a 44" waist and wears XXXL shirts.

His BMI is a life-threatening 40 which, he said, is the result of eating two breakfasts every single day.

"We got ourselves into this situation by greed, so it's up to us to find a way out of it," said Chris. "To put it plainly, we love food - and we don't expect the NHS to pick up bill for it."

Isabella, who is a size 22, said: "It's wrong that dole-claiming scroungers who have never worked a day in their life get the surgery for free.

"We are not super-rich, we are a working family and instead of buying a new car, we are going to buy ourselves a new lifestyle.

"You can't put a price on your health."

Chris revealed: "Our favourite foods were share-sized packets of crisps and calorific homemade desserts, like crumble with custard.

"Because we have kids to feed, Isabella would make gigantic portions - then she and I would return for second or third helpings, just because the food was there.

"We would eat dinner early in the evening but by 8pm we would be peckish again, and would end up having a second dinner in front of the telly like three rounds of toast with popcorn."

He added: "We knew it was unhealthy, but the truth is, we loved eating and would get through tonnes and tonnes of food every week."

Isabella's daily diet:


Breakfast: nothing


Lunch: jacket potato with a tin of tuna, salad and a tub of coleslaw


Afternoon snack: sharing size packet of crisps


Dinner: two helpings of moussaka with extra cheddar cheese and bacon, followed by two helpings of apple crumble with custard.


Evening snacks: Three rounds of toast and a bowl of popcorn.


Drinks: Diet fizzy drink

Chris' daily diet:


4am breakfast: large bowl of cereal with full-fat milk


8am breakfast at work: Full English breakfast


Lunch: fish and chips


Afternoon snacks: onion bhajis and samosas


Dinner: two helpings of moussaka with extra cheddar cheese and bacon, followed by two helpings of apple crumble with custard.


Evening snacks: Three rounds of toast and a bowl of popcorn.


Drinks: Diet fizzy drink

With BMIs over 40, both Isabella and Chris were classed as morbidly obese and told repeatedly by their GP that they were eligible for gastric band surgery on the NHS.

"We were offered the NHS health programme as we'd both had health issues relating to weight," said Isabella. "If we failed the programme, we would be entitled to a free gastric band.

"We politely refused."

Instead, the couple discussed forking out for a gastric band with their own savings and arranged a consultation.

But Chris decided he didn't want to resort to the dramatic treatment without trying to diet.

"We spent the next three months trying to lose weight naturally. We worked out, ate healthily and even tried slimming pills," he said.

"I lost a stone and Isabella lost two, but we couldn't keep the weight off. Slowly, we piled on the pounds again and undid all our hard work.

"In April this year, we accepted that eating huge portions was making us fat. Isabella suggested that we go through with getting a gastric band fitted.

"She was joking - but slowly we realised that this was the only solution for us - because we love eating."

the wrays

Chris and Isabella Wray before they gained weight

Chris added: "We knew it was a life-changing decision, and we knew it would be expensive, but never for one second did we consider approaching the NHS.

"As a couple, we pride ourselves on being independent, and we are not willing to accept services for free when we can pay our own way.

"Besides, we are both mobile and able to work - so there's no reason to try and scrounge the treatment."

During a consultation at Dolan Park, part of Birmingham Hospital Group, earlier this month, the couple were told they can have the 20-minute keyhole surgery on the same day and are even able to share a room.

Isabella added: "For a family with five kids, 10k is a huge amount to spend. But we think it's only right that we spend our own money.

"Asking for tight NHS budgets to spent correcting our greed would be an insult to the taxpayer."

Chris hopes to lose 6st by Christmas, and Isabella expects to lose 4st.

Isabella added that they've been warned there could be complications, but they're willing to go ahead with it anyway.

"It's a life-changing operation and funding it with our own money has forced us to think seriously about doing it," she said. "This has not been an easy decision.

"But we are essentially buying a new lifestyle, so it's worth it."

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