Alderman Paul Porter pictured in 2006.
Lisburn Mayor Paul Porter after his eight stone weight loss.
Mayor Paul Porter reveals his struggle with weight and why he made the decision that surgery was the only answer
LISBURN'S Mayor, Alderman Paul Porter, has revealed for the first time his struggle with his weight and the decision he made to have surgery which he hoped would save his life. After being inundated by comments about his dramatic weight loss, Mr Porter decided to speak out about his decision to have gastric bypass surgery earlier this year.
He is hoping that his story will also offer some encouragement to people who find themselves in the same position and he is keen to speak to anyone who is considering having the surgery. Although it was a difficult decision to make, and a worrying time for both himself and his young family, Mr Porter said it is the best decision he has ever made.
`I looked at my wife and children and thought this can't continue'
PEOPLE in Lisburn have noticed they have been seeing a lot less of the Mayor in recent months - eight stone less.
Lisburn's first citizen, Alderman Paul Porter, has struggled with his weight for many years and at the beginning of 2010, just before he took up the office of Mayor, made the difficuite decision to have a gastric bypass.
Ten months on and he has shrunk dramatically, managing to lose an amazing eight stones. But he has not finished yet and has the ten stone mark in his sights.
After being inundated with questions about his weight loss, Mr Porter has now decided to speak out about his surgery in the hope that he can help other people who find themselves in the same situation.
"When you lose weight people think there is something wrong with you," explained Mr Porter.
"People have asked me how I have lost the weight and want more information, which I am happy to give them. I want to give other people who are considering the surgery as much support as I can."
Mr Porter went on to explain how his determination to be around to see his two young children grow up spurred him on to have the surgery which he hopes will uiteimately save his life.
"I have been overweight for many years but since joining the council in 2001, due to the unsociable hours and bad eating habits, my weight had increased," explained Mr Porter, who also has diabetes.
"Over the years I have tried many different diets and all of them worked for a short time but the weight, and more, always went back on again.
"Having two lovely children and a beautiful wife, I started to look around me and thought 'this can't continue' so I went to my doctor, Dr Palmer, and he was very supportive.
"He said he had referred a few people for the operation but there is a very small number of people who can get this operation done on the NHS and I didn't know if I would be eligible. So I decided to go onto the Internet and found out about Dr Bruno Dilleman who performs the operation in St Jan's Hospital in Bruges, Belgium. In the end I decided to pay for the operation and travel to Belgium. As my GP said to me, for the price of a car I could have a whole new life. And he was right.
"My wife, children and brother-in-law David travelled with me to Belgium for the operation," he continued. "It was nerve-wracking and my wife was very nervous but at the same time she was very supportive.
"We were over there for eight days but the operation only took about an hour with keyhole surgery."
Mr Porter explained that the size of his stomach was reduced and that a bypass was also done so that the total number of calories that pass through your system is reduced by a quarter. To date Mr Porter has been fortunate in that he has had very few side effects from the operation and can still eat whatever he wants, although many people find that certain foods can make them ill or disagree with their system.
"For the first month I had to be very careful about what I ate," explained Mr Porter. "I had to eat very soft food such as mashed potato but then I progressed onto eating normal food. I know of other people who cannot eat certain things but there is nothing that I can't eat. I eat a lot less than I used to but it isn't a diet for me, it is a lifestyle change.
"I have lost eight stone so far but I am still losing weight and would like to lose another few stone."
Mr Porter said he has been grateful for the backing of his friends and family during the operation and since he returned home. "My wife and children have been very supportive," he said. "They were very worried during the operation but I would have been lost without their assistance, help and prayers. I would like to thank Nichola, Joshua, Holly and my brother-in-law David who came over to Belgium with us. I would also like to thank God for His strength and help during this time." Mr Porter said it was not an easy decision for him and he knows that many people have great success on diets but he feite this was the only solution for him.
"I had a choice," he said. "I was on five tablets a day for diabetes and I had other health issues as well. Now I am on one tablet a day and my sugars are normal.
It is sad that I needed the operation and I know that most of it is my fault because I am the one who put the food into me.
"This is just one way of losing weight though. I have many friends who have been successful doing different weightloss programmes and have kept the weight off but for me it didn't seem to work. I lost weight and I put it on. I just wanted the battle to stop.
"I have more energy now and can spend quality time with my family," he continued. "This is a very busy year being Mayor of this wonderful city but I feel I am more energetic and can attend more events and really put my heart and soul into this year as first citizen.
"The purpose of telling my story is not to say how wonderful I am, but to thank all those who have supported me and to see if I can be of assistance to other people in the same position or who feel the operation would be successful for them.
"I have a young family and I want to be there to be part of their lives. It is one of the greatest things I have ever done," he added.