World's fattest woman, Bed-bound for 5 Yrs, sheds 500lbs & Buys her First Bikini
The former world's fattest woman who at her heaviest weighed 1,000lbs has lost half her body weight - but she has been left with 140lbs of excess skin.
Catrina Raiford, 38, tipped the scales at half a ton and was bed-bound for five years, until she had her home bulldozed to free her from her bed after suffering breathing difficulties.
Catrina, from Florida, then embarked on a strict diet and a gastric bypass to lose more than 500lbs, reaching 448lbs in 2014, and has now given her first interview.
Catrina said: 'I'm so much happier now and feel so confident. I was in bed for so long that now I've lost the weight I just want to be free.
Twelve years ago, Catrina weighed more than 1,000lbs and dubbed herself 'The Half-Ton Woman'.
She had always had problems with her weight, following years of sexual abuse as a child, Catrina found comfort in sweet, sugary snacks and secret eating.
Catrina has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the money to have the surgery to remove her excess skin - which could set her back as much as $10,000
By the age of 12, Catrina was so big that her mother had to start making her clothes as shops did not stock sizes large enough to fit her.
Aged 14, and weighing 448lbs, Catrina was admitted to a psychiatric home for eight months to help her deal with her overeating.
Feeling unable to discuss the abuse with anyone, even this did not help and she continued to gain weight.
Soon she did not leave her home and would spend her days eating and avoiding people.
Catrina was unable to move around easily, lost her job and had to move back in with her mother.
Five years followed where she was bedbound. Her mother would bring her food and a cousin would empty a bed pan for her.
Instead, Catrina would spend long days on the internet lying to men about her appearance and having 'catfish' relationships, by creating a fake persona and using this to meet men.
Catrina said: 'It was the worst time of my life. I just wanted to die. Each day I'd just eat and go online from morning to night.'
In December 2003, she started having breathing difficulties.
Desperate for medical help, emergency services were called.
A wall of her home had to be bulldozed to get her out and Catrina was transported to hospital on the back of a flatbed truck.
She said: 'It was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.
'But it was the thing that saved me.'
She began a calorie-restricted diet and only ate small portions of lean meat, fruit and vegetables.
With the help of specialists and very light exercise, she went on to lose 300lb naturally before having a gastric bypass procedure.
She has now lost more than 500lbs in total and feels like a new woman.
However, her dramatic weight loss has left her with 140lbs of excess skin across her legs, stomach and arms.
She said she doesn't want the operation for her looks, she needs the skin removed to improve her health
Ms Raiford told how she was desperate to be rid of the 140lbs of excess skin that is weighing her down and exacerbating medical complications.
She said: 'I've just been diagnosed with cellulitis - an infection of the skin - after injuring my leg at the gym.
'Doctors say that I need to lose weight to stop injuring myself and having complications, but this heavy skin makes it so hard.'
But she is pleased with her progress.
She said: 'Last year I bought my first bikini ever. I'm really happy with myself.
'I don't want my excesses skin removed for my looks. I just need the operation to help finish the process I've started and improve my health.'
She has launched a GoFundMe page for donations towards the surgery to remove the skin.
Currently, she has raise $1,190 (£769) towards her goal.