[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Since its premiere in 2012, My 600-lb Life has helped so many people restart their lives after suffering from major health challenges. The TLC hit follows a year in the lives of morbidly obese individuals who are ready to make a real change in their lives and contact Houston, Texas specialist Dr. Younan Nowzaradan for help with their diet and sometimes with special surgery like gastric bypass.
Unfortunately, not all of Dr. Now’s patients prospered after beginning their weight loss journey. And it isn’t always weight issues that take them away from their loved ones. Take a moment to reflect on some of the saddest outcomes of the series (below)…
Starting from the very beginning, Henry Foots was a season 1 fan favorite who weighed 715 pounds when first introduced. He had gained most of his weight from binge-eating, something that had affected him a majority of his life. With a high school reunion around the corner, he was hoping to lose weight — which he did! After switching up his diet and undergoing a gastric bypass and skin removal surgery, Henry weighed 275 pounds at the end of the program. Incredible!
At just 47 years old, viewers were so happy to see that Foots was finally getting the fresh start he desired… but, unfortunately, it didn’t last. In 2012, Henry was working as a shuttle bus driver in Houston, Texas when he suffered a “medical episode,” according to cops, that caused him to lose consciousness behind the wheel. He crashed into a car and fatally hit a pedestrian.
Six months later, on May 16, 2013, Henry passed away. The cause of his death was never made public; however, The Cinemaholic claimed it was unrelated to his weight loss or the shuttle crash. Either way, it is still so devastating.
Season 6 star Robert Buchel began his journey at 903 pounds. He quickly dropped 124 pounds within the first month and another 170 in the second month with the help of lymphedema removal surgery. He was more ready than ever to make a change, saying in the episode:
“To carry all this weight is physically draining, mentally, emotionally taxing. 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.”
The New Jersey native was fighting more than just his food addiction, though. He was also struggling to overcome depression and pain killer addiction. During filming, it all proved too much and he died of cardiac arrest on November 15, 2017.
Lisa Fleming was ready to make a major change to her life when she joined the show in season 6. At the time, she weighed 705 pounds. Her mother had died from obesity-related issues, so the struggles ran in her family.
While on My 600-lb Life, Lisa lost 200 pounds after undergoing weight loss surgery. Sadly, just months after appearing on the series, her body “gave out.” In August 2018, Fleming’s daughter Danielle told TMZ:
“At the end she was sick and her body was tired and her body just gave out.”
In a Facebook announcement obtained by People, she also explained:
“I am truly at a loss for words right now. This morning I sat and held your hand for 4 hours knowing nothing I could’ve done would bring you back to me. Anybody who knows me knows I gave my mother my ALL! … I’m happy you’re no longer in pain and stuck in that bed.”
Sean & Renee Milliken
Sean Milliken weighed a record-breaking 1,003 pounds when he joined the show in his twenties. The season 4 cast member required mandatory surgery before beginning his weight loss journey. He was then able to drop an impressive 548 pounds. Unfortunately, that progress didn’t last…
In a special titled Where Are They Now?, it was revealed that Sean was struggling to keep off the weight. He was also battling other emotional and mental challenges. His co-dependent relationship with his mother Renee was not helping the matter, either. While she was not a patient of Dr. Now’s, Renee was heavily featured in the episode because of how involved she was in Sean’s life, somewhat to both of their detriments. When Renee passed away in 2017 from kidney failure, her son had a tough time overcoming the loss. Two years later, he died of complications from an undisclosed infection.
Season 5 star James King joined the franchise weighing in at 791 pounds. Sadly, he wasn’t able to keep the weight off. When he appeared on a Where Are They Now? special, he had gained an additional 49 pounds. In a surprising twist, Dr. Now actually blamed James’ wife Lisa for getting in the way of her husband’s journey. The doc went so far as to call Adult Protective Services claiming that she was impacting his prescribed eating plan. Wow!
King was eventually able to drop an impressive 340 pounds. But in April 2020, he passed away at age 49. His cause of death was kidney failure, but a source told The Sun he was also affected by septic shock. He was sent to the hospital in 2017 for sepsis, cirrhosis, and kidney failure as well. So sad.
James “LB” Bonner had an impressive weight loss journey during season 6 of the series. He went from 642 pounds to 324. Sadly, he was facing other inner battles. In 2018, LB took to Facebook to send a cryptic message that read:
“I just want to say thank you to everyone who has shown me love and support throughout my journey… I’ve realized a few things over the last few days and it’s time that I face my demons head on.”
He was later found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in a Lexington, South Carolina park. The county coroner declared the cause of death was suicide. James was just 30 years old.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ‘1-800-273-TALK (8255)’ or text TALK to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.
Coliesa McMillian called Dr. Now her “personal angel” after they worked together on season 8. After surviving a heart attack before her weight loss journey, Coliesa was able to drop 145 pounds from her original 643-pound weight with the help of weight loss surgery. Unfortunately, McMillian later suffered from complications of that surgery, which landed her in the hospital on a ventilator for two-and-a-half weeks. When little progress was made, doctors decided to put her in a medically induced coma. In September 2020, TMZ reported she passed away at age 41. No specific cause of death was released.
Kelly Mason was one of the hardest working patients on the show. She appeared in season 7 with a laundry list of health issues, including high blood pressure, a blood clot in her leg, type II diabetes, and arthritis. Because of this, she wasn’t able to qualify for surgery until she dropped 340 pounds. Tragically, she died in her sleep after suffering a heart attack just one day before her 42nd birthday and just as she was about to get approved for the procedure.
During her episode, Dr. Now expressed:
“At Kelly’s appointment with me a few weeks ago, her weight loss was on track. So, [her death] was not a result of her starting to go back to her old habits. She was working hard and doing what she needed [to do]. But despite that, the damage to her heart up to this point was just too severe.”
Gina Krasley was one of the heaviest castmates when she joined season 8. During the candid episode, she opened up about her abusive childhood, trauma that had led to emotional eating. Beginning at 556 pounds, she slowly worked off 50 pounds.
Interestingly, she was so motivated to create impactful change in her life that when the show stopped filming her episode, she began posting updates on her own YouTube channel. A year after her season aired, she had dropped another 100 pounds. She also used her platform to encourage others along their journey. Amazing!
Unfortunately, on August 1, her family announced that she had passed away at just 30 years old. No cause of death was revealed. In place of flowers, they asked for donations to be given to mental health organizations.
Renee Biran weighed in at 631 pounds when she joined the TLC hit in season 6. Before committing to her health journey, Renee was proud to be a plus-size model, but when medical issues arose, she knew she had to make a change. She saw a lot of success working with Dr. Now, dropping 250 pounds. Sadly, she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome in 2019, “a rare autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis,” according to the CDC. On May 14, 2021, Biran’s family announced she had passed away at 56 years old, surrounded by those that loved her. It’s unclear what specific ailment led to her death.
My 600-lb Life’s first transgender star Destinee LaShaee, who also went by Matthew Ventress, appeared on season 7 weighing in at nearly 700 lbs. During the episode which originally aired in March 2019, the TLC personality opened up about how mental health issues had always been a challenge when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, saying:
“I feel like all I’m constantly doing is trying to escape my depression and pain at this point. Food is the only thing I can turn to to do that. I can feel it killing me. There is no way I’m going to survive for much longer.”
With the help of Dr. Now, Destinee was able to learn healthy living habits that would help result in major success after the show. LaShaee lost an impressive 500 lbs., inspiring fans who followed along with the journey online. Sadly, Destinee’s mental health struggles remained a difficult factor and the social media star passed away in early February 2022. According to multiple reports, Destinee was 30 years old. No cause of death was revealed, but LaShaee’s brother did take to Facebook to share the heartbreaking news, reflecting:
“No no no I’m sorry bro, I accept you for who you are, I accept every flaw that come with you, I’m sorry you felt alone, I’m sorry you felt you had nobody else to turn too”
Such sad losses… R.I.P.
[Image via TLC.]