HEALTH CRISIS At hospital, man drops hundreds of pounds

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- A man who once weighed more than half a ton has lost 321 pounds under the care of a team of doctors and hopes to lose 450 pounds more.
Patrick Deuel, 42, of Valentine, Neb., weighed 1,072 pounds when he was admitted to Sioux Falls' Avera McKennan Hospital eight weeks ago. Deuel, who is just under 6 feet tall, is on a 1,200 calorie-a-day diet.
"If we hadn't gotten him here, he'd be dead now," said Fred Harris, Deuel's lead doctor.
The former restaurant manager has been bedridden since last fall. He has battled heart failure, thyroid problems, diabetes, pulmonary hypertension and arthritis, and needed help just to roll over in bed.
"Until recently, I wasn't able to see any light at the end of the tunnel," he said this week from his hospital bed.
How he was weighed
A group known as the League of Human Dignity helped arrange for Deuel to be driven to a local livestock scale, where he could be weighed.
According to the Guinness Book of Records Web site, the record for heaviest man in the world is 1,397 pounds, held by Jon Brower Minnoch of Bainbridge, Wash., who died in 1983.
Deuel, who has battled weight problems all his life and blames his condition in part on genetics, said it took months to find a hospital. Hospitals closer to his home balked at admitting him, he said.
"I got scared because I couldn't help him anymore, and I didn't know who would help him," said his wife, Edith.
Harris said Deuel's care could cost millions of dollars, much of which the hospital may have to cover. Officials found a special ambulance, and hospital workers joined two beds to accommodate Deuel.
One of Deuel's goals is to walk out of the hospital. He also wants to go to a Nebraska Cornhuskers football game, and just take a walk with his wife.
"Even though he's faced negativity all these years, he's not a negative person," Edith Deuel said. "He's almost always been able to stay bubbly and make jokes and be happy."

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