Ricky Naputi from Guam had weighed 900 pounds at his heaviest. He battled with his food addiction for years and finally succumbed to it on November 10, 2012. He was just 39 years old at the time of his death.
A lot of people heard about him through the TLC documentary “900 Pound Man: Race against Time.”Naputi welcomed the reality TV crew into his home and showed them how he spent his day, most of it on the bed. He was unable to walk on his own for years. He also had to rely on other people to take a bath. He felt that he was a prisoner of his own bed and helpless about his situation. In his documentary, Ricky was seen using the oxygen machine a lot because he had hard time breathing.
Ricky met his wife Cheryl in 2002, and he courted her over the phone. He was already obese that time but was far from 900 pounds. Then Ricky asked her to come over his place so that they could talk. Then three weeks later she moved in.
Cheryl compared taking care of him as looking after a giant baby. She said that when she married Ricky, she knew what she was getting into. She also knew that she would outlive him unless he changed his lifestyle. And she was right. Because Ricky can’t move on his own, it was Cheryl who did everything for her husband. She was her husband’s personal nurse, cook, and caregiver. She cleaned all parts of his body, help him go to the toilet, and cook his food.
Ricky and Cheryl wanted to start a family and have children, but they never consummated their marriage because of Ricky’s obesity. He wanted to get his life back by losing weight, and that’s why he contacted Angie Flores, a woman from Houston, Texas, who managed to lose more than 175 pounds through gastric surgery. She is an advocate for people who want to go through the same experience she had.
Doctors from American, Australia, and Guam had given him an ultimatum to shape up or die. The first doctor who looked into Ricky’s case was Dr. Duc Vuong, a refugee from Vietnam, who trained as an obesity specialist in the United States. He went to Guam with Angie to assess the obese man’s health. He told Ricky to lose some weight before he could perform the gastric surgery that could reduce his stomach by 80 percent. He also told Cheryl to control Ricky’s food intake as she is the one who cooks and gives him food. She said despite her husband being immobile, he was the one in control, and she couldn’t resist giving him food when he begs for it.
Dr. Vuong asked for help from a local clinic and Dr. John Steel, head of the clinic. Dr. Steel echoed the first doctor’s ultimatum. He said that if Ricky couldn’t reduce his weight on his own then doctors can’t do anything about his condition.
When Ricky failed to lose weight, it became impossible to move him to Houston for the surgery. So the team contacted a doctor from Australia. George Hopkins is a leading obesity surgeon from Brisbane. He went to Guam to look at Ricky. After the check-up, he came up with the same conclusion as that of the first two specialists.
When Ricky failed to lose weight, it became impossible to move him to Houston for the operation. So the team contacted a doctor from Australia. George Hopkins is a leading obesity surgeon from Brisbane and went to Guam to look at Ricky. He also shared the sentiments of the first two specialists.
When Ricky and Cheryl learned about Dr. Hopkins’ recommendations, the couple broke down and said that they had done all that they could but Ricky just couldn’t lose weight. The 900 pound man felt he was stuck in his bed for the rest of his life.
Ricky described his fight with food as something that drug addicts can relate to. While the wife is partly to be blamed, Ricky has dictated his own fate. He ate whenever he wanted to and maintained a 10,000 calorie diet that led to his death.
People who say obesity can’t kill a person should look at the case of Ricky Naputi and should influence them to improve their health. Controlling obesity is hard, especially if the person doesn’t have the will to limit one’s food intake. And that’s what happened to the man who ate himself to death.