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Obese man dies after refusing zoo X-ray

Published: 03 Nov 2009 10:43 GMT+01:00

Thomas Lessmann, who weighed 230 kilos (507 pounds), had not been feeling well and had lost consciousness several times when he sought medical care at the renowned University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) on September 21, the paper said.

The 51-year-old patient was at the hospital for 10 hours, but because he couldn’t fit into the hospital’s X-ray machine, doctors there recommended that he go to the nearby Hagenbeck animal park, which has a much larger machine.

“It sounded as if they wanted to mock us,” his wife Petra Lessmann told the paper.

His hospital discharge summary reportedly read: “Imaging not feasible here due to body weight, please arrange as an outpatient, for example at Hagenbeck.”

But Lessmann felt too humiliated to go to the zoo and died of unknown causes 13 days later.

“We regret the unclear instruction ‘at Hagenbeck’,” UKE spokesperson Christine Jähn told Bild. “We understand that it’s irritating for patients and relatives when they are referred to veterinary facilities.”

While all patients have a right to medical care, the maximum capacity of most hospital machines is around 200 kilo, Jähn explained.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

10:26 November 5, 2009 by mprulez
"I do not think that I want my health insurance money spent on a special x-ray machine for extremely overweight people. If he feels too embarrassed to have his x-rays taken at the zoo, that is his problem.

"

The machine is for everyone. The only difference is that it can bear heavy weights.

For those people here who say that he should not have been embarassed: situational context is different from past behavior.
16:33 November 6, 2009 by William Thirteen
i think pepsionice is on target - sounds like typical german customer service. the medical personnel should have made it clearer that he urgently needed to have the x-ray - and they probably should have brought him over there themselves.

as written in the article, the referral seemed to just be making an off color joke.
13:06 November 10, 2009 by Vargaz
"In a protective action the board of medical reviewers at the Hagenbeck facility, led by Dr. L. E Phant, voted unanimously to decline letting a 500 pound man onto the premises in fear that he would eat the staff. Many obese humans, commonaly known as fat slobs known for their lack of restraint and penchant for giant wursts of all kinds, request using the machinery at Hagenbeck because they can't fit into the machines at regular human hospitals. The only dissenter was the shapely Dr. W. Albust, a well known blubberette specialist. The staff have decided to implement a new rapid weight reduction plan by simply rolling obesely plump candidates into the hungry lions yard" May he RIP.
22:56 November 24, 2009 by kimberlycalifornia
I can't believe this has gotten so many comments. The point of the matter is, it's an unfortunate situation. I understand his humiliation and refusal at first, but he probably thought he had more time than 13 days to think about his options and finally swallow his pride and go to the veterinary services for an x-ray. What's done is done.
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