Frenchman, who was once allowed to not board a plane due to his weight, sheds 100 kilos

Aug 23, 2018, 19:04 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

Five years ago, Frenchman Kevin Chenais was not allowed to board a plane because of his weight; today, he is striking poses like Shah Rukh Khan

Frenchman, who was once allowed to not board a plane due to his weight, sheds 100 kilos
Kevin Chenais Strikes a classic Shah Rukh Khan pose

Kevin Chenais, a 27-year-old Frenchman, had made international headlines in 2013 when an airline refused to let him fly, citing excessive body weight. Five years on, he has managed to drop from 296 kg to 205 kg, thanks to Mumbai-based bariatric surgeon Dr Muffazal Lakdawala and a Jordanian princess.

Now, after 15 years of immobility, not only has Chenais got back on his feet, but he is also striking poses like his favourite Bollywood actor, Shah Rukh Khan. He started gaining weight when he was just six months old; by the time he was 22, he'd touched 220 kg — a classic example of acute childhood obesity.

Kevin Chenais exercises under the watchful eyes of Dr Muffazal Lakdawala and the trainer; Princess Haya bint Al Hussein of Jordan (below) provided her private jet to enable him to come to the city for the surgery. Pics/pradeep dhivar, AFP
Kevin Chenais exercises under the watchful eyes of Dr Muffazal Lakdawala and the trainer; Princess Haya bint Al Hussein of Jordan (below) provided her private jet to enable him to come to the city for the surgery. Pics/pradeep dhivar, AFP

Scarred by past ordeal
Desperate, Chenais sought treatment across the globe, in France, Switzerland and the US. He underwent his first bariatric surgery at a famous weight loss centre in the US in 2004. He lost 35 kg, but gradually started putting on even more weight, finally shooting up to 296 kg. The open surgery also left him so traumatised that he was apprehensive about undergoing another one, that is until he heard of Dr Lakdawala from his mother, who works with the UN Human Rights Council and used to stay in Kolkata.

"She tried to persuade me to undergo the surgery, but I was scared. I had to go through counselling first. But now, for the first time in almost a decade, I can actually stand on my feet and even use a normal bathroom," said the ecstatic Frenchman.

Princess Haya bint Al Hussein of Jordan
Princess Haya bint Al Hussein of Jordan

Chenais shed nearly 100 kg during his yearlong treatment at Saifee Hospital, which included counselling, a severe diet regime, physiotherapy and, finally, bariatric surgery in June this year.

Thanks to the treatment, even as his weight drops, his strength is only increasing. He is also working out in the gym under the supervision of trained instructors, and can even lift his former weight — 300 kg.

Princess Charming
It's not just Dr Lakdawala he has to thank for his transformative journey. After he'd made up his mind to fly to Mumbai for treatment, he faced a repeat of the humiliation he'd suffered in 2013, when no airline agreed to fly him to India.

It was Jordanian Princess Haya bint Al Hussein who came to his rescue. She had heard of him after his story was splashed across papers five years ago, and agreed to help when Chenais's mother reached out to her. "As my mother works in the UN, she reached out to Princess Haya, who agreed to help me out," said Chenais. The princess provided her private jet to bring him to the city, accompanied by two doctors in case of emergency. He also carried an oxygen cylinder with him during the flight.

New name, new life
"When I landed in Mumbai last August, I was 296 kg, and now, I am 205 kg, said Chenais, adding, "Once, I lose another 100 kg, I will officially take Krishna Kapoor as my new name. I want to start my new life with a new identity of my choice. Like Krishna, I, too, want to fight evil, which for me is the curse of childhood obesity. I want to devote my life to saving lives from this malaise. I will also write a book on all the suffering I faced just because I was fat," Chenais told mid-day.

He is already a new man since his weight loss started. In his year-long stay in the city, Chenais has taken a shine to Bollywood movies and Shah Rukh Khan is his absolute favourite.

"Post the surgery, when his physical exercise started, Kevin would pose like SRK and spread his arms in the air, asking us if he was doing it correctly. So, you can see the change in him and how his confidence has increased," said Dr Lakdawala.

The doctor recalled how unconfident the youth was when he had first arrived. "He wouldn't even talk to the hospital staffers, but now he is laughing and posing like his favourite stars. A doctor feels most satisfied when he can give a new life to a patient, one who was so shy and fearful and has now turned into the most joyful person. Due to his obesity, he couldn't even move and was home-schooled. Now, he is hopeful that he can have a normal life," added the surgeon.

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