'My 600-lb Life': Coliesa McMillian to James King, 8 tragic deaths from obesity and related health issues
Fans of the show have witnessed morbidly obese people undergo various programs to reach a goal weight after which they undergo a weight loss surgery, but not many have survived this process
'My 600-lb Life' Season 9 is about to premiere on Wednesday, December 30. The TLC show spotlights the journey of extremely overweight people, precisely weighing 600lbs and above, trying to shed all those extra pounds after being diagnosed with a number of health conditions. Dr Younan Nowzaradan, the physician in-charge, who gives it straight to his patients, never minces words as he informs them of the ill-effects of the extra weight on their mobility and in most cases, on their life span. People who appear on the show undergo various programs (diets and exercises) to reach their ideal weight after which they can be cleared to undergo gastric bypass surgery but not everyone finds success. Want to know how many people have died on the TLC show? Read to find out.
Louisiana native Coliesa appeared on Season 8 of 'My 600-lb Life'. She died aged 41, in September and the reason for her death apparently were complications from the weight-loss surgery she underwent. She weighed 643 pounds when she first appeared on the show and had lost 150 pounds by the end, stated a Deadline report.
“I wasted my life on food,” McMillian had said on the series. “Just the hunger and the need and the desire. It has taken over my life, and I am exhausted. I am exhausted from this life. Life like this is not life. It feels like my body is trying to give up, I can feel it, but I can’t give up. I have to be here for my children.”
Her daughters announced her death on Facebook followed by an announcement by TLC on Twitter. “TLC is saddened to learn of the loss of Coliesa McMillian, who shared her story on My 600lb Life,” the network wrote. “Our deepest condolences to her family at this difficult time.”
TLC is saddened to learn of the loss of Coliesa McMillian, who shared her story on My 600lb Life. Our deepest condolences to her family at this difficult time.— TLC Network (@TLC) September 23, 2020
Another cast member who appeared on the show's Season 5 died this year. On April 3, 2020, James passed away aged 49 at a hospital in Tennessee. The Sun reported that he went into septic shock. "He died of kidney failure. He had been suffering, but now he is no longer in pain," an insider revealed to the outlet.
James came on the show weighing 791lbs when he made his debut on the show. He returned on 'My 600-lb Life: Where Are They Now?' special, almost 50 pounds heavier. However, he lost close to 340 pounds since that episode aired. “He weighed about 500 pounds when he passed away. He would have been proud of himself," the insider added.
Kelly Mason's death story left all the fans of the show shocked and sad. She was very determined to drop all those pounds but despite every effort she made, her heart failed to keep up with everything she was doing to recover from obesity.
"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 said. Her dependency on food was dangerously high but she acknowledged that she needed help to ward off her addiction. "I can't stop eating," she said in one of the scenes on the show. "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," she added.
Kelly had diabetes, high blood pressure, a blood clot in her leg, a pulmonary embolism, reflux, thyroid problems and arthritis among other things. Shortly before she came on the show she had been in the hospital for congestive heart failure and shortness of breath.
Dr Nowzaradan was not very positive about Kelly being able to make it but her determination toward changing her life was not lost on him and he decided to help her commit to a plan. She lost 220 pounds first and later on dropped a few more pounds and she was down by 324 pounds, her goal weight after which she was cleared for weight loss surgery. However, her heart still continued being a cause of trouble and she died of cardiac arrest, according to Distractify, on February 15, 2019.
2019 saw the death of another cast member from this show. Sean Milliken died aged 29, according to a People report, from complications from an infection. "He was having problems with his breathing, they were able to resuscitate him and a short time later his heart stopped,” his father Matt Milliken wrote in a Facebook post.
Sean appeared on the show weighing 900lbs and bedridden. In a devastating revelation, Sean had said that his weight gain was because of his relationship with his father who used to back him in a corner and yell in his face. “It was scary. So I would eat. And suddenly I felt a lot better,” Sean had said. “In that moment, nothing else mattered.”
Sean lost some 400lbs through weight loss surgery but his mother who was his biggest support passed away in 2017 and he began to struggle to keep his weight down.
Lisa Fleming had appeared on Season 6 of the show, weighing close to 705lbs when she made her debut. She lost 200lbs after undergoing the weight loss surgery but her body "gave out", TMZ reported and she died aged 50 in August 2018 at her home in Texas.
Lisa's addiction to food had started when she was a little girl, according to a report. She turned to food after her parents got divorced. Her story also revealed that her mother used food to punish her, once forcing her to eat an entire cake after she sneaked a taste of it against her mother's will. Lisa's addiction to food increased after she witnessed her brother's murder. Things went from bad to worse after she found out that there were maggots growing in between the folds of her skin. That was a wake-up call for Lisa who then wanted to embark on a path to being fit. However, she tragically passed away
James "LB" Bonner
James was one of the success stories on this show. He tipped the scales at 650lbs after he lost his leg in a car accident in 2013 after which he had become depressed and had started using food as a coping mechanism. The 6 ft 5 inch tall TV personality resorted to meal prepping, extensive dieting, exercise and sobriety to lose weight and his efforts paid off. He had undergone lap-band surgery on the show, according to a People report and ended up losing 400 lbs.
James had achieved physical fitness to a certain extent but mentally he was in turmoil. He was found dead on August 2, 2018, in a ditch with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head by a police officer from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department, according to TMZ.
New Jersey native, Robert Buchel was 41-years-old and 842lbs when he made his debut on the show. He was said to be battling a life-long addiction to food that had left him bed-bound and saddled with grotesque lymphedema. He was completely immobile and needed help in almost every basic task. His close ones happily obliged but Robert wasn't a fan of the dependency. “To carry all this weight is physically draining, mentally, emotionally taxing,” he said in his episode. “It’s not a pain or life I’d wish on anyone because I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything for anyone — especially myself, so I am completely dependent on my fiancee," he added.
Robert had started overeating after his parents opened a fried chicken store. However, his addiction began when he was molested by a neighbor at the age of 9. The death of his brother led to Robert ending up depressed and insanely addicted to food, to an extent that he could never recover. He then found love with Kathryn, his fiancee and was ready to get better for her and enrolled on the show.
Dr Nowzaradan's guidance combined with Robert's hard work worked wonders. Exercise and diet followed by weight loss surgery and removal of his lymphedema masses led to his weight dropping to 502 lbs. However, Robert's depression returned after his surgery. He refused exercises and became severely addicted to pain-relieving medicines, he even ripped up his stitches to get some pills. All this chaos resulted in him suffering a fatal heart attack in his sleep, in November 2017 after which he passed away.
Texas native Henry Foots was one of the biggest people to feature on the show. He was a whopping 715lbs when he began his weight-loss journey. His food addiction, like most of the cast, started when he was young. It started off with him overeating which resulted in a constant weight gain. He kept eating, sometimes moving to the bathroom to continue doing so comfortably without any prying eyes. However, a high school reunion invitation sparked a desire in him to become fit. He followed a healthy diet after which he was cleared for gastric bypass surgery and skin removal surgeries after which he lost 340 lbs.
Foots was undergoing a second surgery for removing the extra skin but that's when his heart stopped, mid-surgery and doctors failed to revive him.
'My 600-lb Life' Season 9 will premiere on Wednesday, December 10 between 8 pm to 10 pm ET on TLC.