Of all of the people we've met through My 600-lb Life (and believe us, we've met many), no one's story has had more of an impact on us (or on Dr. Now, it seems) than Kelly's. She was super hard-working and motivated, but in the end her heart gave out despite her earnest efforts at recovering from obesity.
When we first met the North Carolina native, she weighed over 700 lbs, and was exhausted with the way her life was going. "I wish I had a different body," she said in the opening scene. "Every day is a bad day and every step is torture. Everything is hard to do, people don't understand that. And it gets worse every day."
She realizes that she needs help with her addiction to food. "I can't stop eating," she says in a devastating scene early on. "It's like the thing that's causing you to not fulfill your dreams is the same thing you use to help fix your problems." But Kelly is absolutely determined to do what it takes to change up her life.
We even get to see a new side of Dr. Now, the celebrity bariatric surgeon whose famous diet plan has helped transform the lives of countless obese patients who have now overcome their illness and are living healthy, happy lives. "I'm very concerned about Kelly right now," he says upon first meeting her. "You have to start losing weight immediately because every day is a question of whether you'll survive or not."
Kelly had a history of heart failure.
When we see Kelly at her first appointment with Dr. Now, he names all the serious health conditions her weight is affecting. Kelly has diabetes, high blood pressure, a blood clot in her leg, a pulmonary embolism, reflux, thyroid problems, and arthritis among other things. She had also recently been in the hospital for congestive heart failure and shortness of breath.
"There's no way she's going to be able to survive much longer," states Dr. Now before bending over backwards to make sure that Kelly has the best shot at weight loss as possible. He helps her when she falls in the cab leaving his office and commits her to a hospital where she succeeds at losing her first 100 pounds.
"Dr. Now thinks, hopefully, it's a new beginning and a new life," says a hopeful Kelly who eventually gets approved for weight loss surgery after bringing her initial weight down by 220 pounds. She stays committed to her weight-loss goal even after her surgery, at which point she's down a total of 324 pounds.
"It feels like the first day of a new life, actually," she says in an emotional voiceover when she's being discharged. "My plan is to stick to the diet, do physical therapy, occupational therapy, to walk in the neighborhood. To do what Dr. Now expects me to do. But with my heart not functioning the way it's supposed to, this breath could be my last breath. But I don't want to die."
Sadly, despite her best efforts and her new lease on life (we last see Kelly calling her former college about summer classes in order to finally complete her degree), we learn in a phone call between the Houston coroner and Dr. Now that Kelly passed away in her sleep around the 9-month mark due to cardiac arrest.
"Kelly was battling with her heart condition for a long time," says a grieving Dr. Now. "Considering the condition that Kelly's heart has been in, this news is not completely unexpected. I was still very hopeful that we would be able to get her out of her state of heart failure so I'm very saddened to hear this news. At Kelly's last appointment with me a few weeks ago, her weight loss was on track, so this is not a result of her going back to her old habits. She was working hard and doing what she needed but despite that, the damage to her heart up to this point was just too severe."
Her obituary, which can be found here, is receiving a lot of love and support from the My 600-lb Life fan community. "You are free now," reads one recent tribute. "Even though I didn't know you personally, you touched my life with your story. Fly strong, Kelly."
Our prayers and condolences go out to Kelly's family in this time of grief.
New episodes of My 600-Lb Life air Wednesdays at 10 p.m.