Real Life

Real life: I'm married to Australia's heaviest man

He desperately needed to change for his son.

When Take 5 last caught up with Natasha her husband, Andre, named Australia's heaviest man, he had shed a remarkable 200kg, drastically slimming down from his 470kg figure. With a new and healthy lease of life, the future looked bright for this happy family, but everything was about to change …

Natasha Nasr, 47, from Sydney, NSW shares her story;

I lay in the hospital bed stressed out of my mind.

I'd spent the past month here following an operation to remove a cyst from my thigh which had developed into necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating skin disease that had spread from the top of my thigh to my back.

Doctors had to fight hard from stopping the disease from travelling through my whole body, or amputating a leg.

But my own health was the last thing I was concerned about right now.

My husband Andre, 39, hadn't been to visit me the entire time, though it wasn't for lack of concern on his behalf.

"I'm so worried for you," he said during our daily phone calls.

"Everything's gunna be okay," I reassured him.

I knew that if Andre saw how bad I really was, it would trigger an anxiety attack.

Andre had spent his life battling an eating problem, and little things could make him panic or seek comfort through food.

At its worst, his weight had ballooned to 470kg and he was completely bedridden and unable to leave the house.

Me after my cyst removal operation.
Me after my cyst removal operation.

Since going into hospital two years ago to begin rehabilitation and learn to walk again, he'd lost almost half of that and together we'd set up a gym.

Although his weight had gradually crept back up to 320kg, I held out hope that he'd get back on track.

Our son, Mikhael, 10, was the light of Andre's life and he desperately wanted to set a good example.

So when I was finally discharged, I made sure we kept working out in the gym each day.

One morning Andre had just finished exercising when he toppled to the ground.

"I can't get up," he cried.

I rushed to get the wheelchair we'd had from back when he was bedridden and helped him into it.

Neither of us spoke about it, but it was clear he'd suffered another anxiety attack.

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I hoped he'd be back to his usual joking ways but instead Andre trudged off to bed and stayed there for the next eight weeks.

"Come on, hun," I pleaded, trying to get him to join me in the gym.

Andre's normally happy face was cold and expressionless, his eyes vacant.

I knew he was in a deep depression.

I bathed him each night, and helped him use the toilet.

"I'm sorry," he told me, over and over.

Mikhail rushed to his father's side, hoping to hear him laugh.

But it soon became obvious that Andre's mind was made up: he wasn't going anywhere.

"You need to see a doctor," I said softly.

Eventually he relented.

With Mikhael in Andre's lighter days.
With Mikhael in Andre's lighter days.

Both a physiotherapist and psychologist came to the house each day for two weeks, helping him regain movement and to see a way out of his depression.

Watching my husband take those first steps from the bed sent goose bumps down my spine as I remembered our battle to get him to walk again all those years ago.

It was like we were back at square-one.

But Andre's smile slowly returned and things got better.

I ignored his increasing weight; the main thing was that he was mobile again and playing with Mikhail.

Then, one day seven months later, the phone rang.

I watched Andre's face turn white as a ghost as he listened to the caller.

Andre after losing 130kg.
Andre after losing 130kg.

Turning to face me, he fought back tears.

"They're dead," he choked.

His two cousins had both died in a car crash.

Andre and his cousins were so close, and they were only in their thirties.

It was such a tragic waste of two lives.

I tried not to let the news shock me too much, but Andre headed back to bed and closed the door.

This is it, I thought.

Andre will never recover, he's too far gone.

Sadly, my intuition proved correct.

Huddled up in bed, Andre didn't move at all except to eat.

Once again, I took on the role of carer, which meant running our gym was no longer possible.

There were days when I resented this and wanted to scream at him: get up!

But the two of us had been through so much and the truth was I still loved him dearly.

Part of me sensed that Andre felt the same, since he finally agreed to talk with his doctor again.

"Andre, if you don't go back to hospital, you're not going to live much longer," he warned during a home visit.

I watched Andre's face hearing the words and knew they'd had some effect.

"What can I do?" he asked.

Andre with his surgeon on the morning of his gastric sleeve surgery.
Andre with his surgeon on the morning of his gastric sleeve surgery.

The doctor explained how he needed to stay in hospital and learn to walk again before he could have gastric sleeve surgery to reduce his food intake by removing up to 80 per cent of his stomach.

"This is a high-risk operation," the doctor continued. "You could die."

But the fact was that Andre was already on his death bed – literally.

Surgery was the only option we had left.

Watching the ambulance take my husband away was heartbreaking.

I knew he couldn't stay in his bed, but the thought of him dying while under the knife had me on edge.

Over the next five months, doctors kept Andre on a restricted diet that was high in protein.

In that time, he managed to lose 80kg and regain his wicked sense of humour.

The nurses all loved him, too.

On the day of the op, I kissed him goodbye and waited on tenterhooks.

"Love you," Andre said.

Miraculously, the surgery went smoothly.

Andre, who'd been given a death sentence, bounced back like nothing had happened.

His weight's now just over 300kg and he's back home.

His goal is to get down to 118kg so he'll have lost an entire 350kg.

"I'm not going to let you and Mikhail down," he promised.

For the first time in his life, he's unable to finish meals and no longer has the insatiable cravings.

Mikhael, Steve 'the commando' Willis and Andre.
Mikhael, Steve 'the commando' Willis and Andre.

But one thing that hasn't changed is his humour.

When he reaches his target me, him and Mikhail have got plans to visit Austria, where I come from, and to explore the Greek Islands.

"Then I'm gunna pose in a mankini!" Andre laughed.

I know he's dead-serious about that and his resolve to beat the bulge.

He might be Australia's heaviest man, but nothing compares to the size of our love.

ANDRE TELLS TAKE 5:
I feel so lucky to have been given a second chance.

I owe it to Natasha and Mikhail not going to waste it.

I also hope to work tackling childhood obesity and help others take control of their lives.

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