Cedar Rapids Woman Looks to Reality Show to Lose Weight

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - She's severely overweight, but thinks a reality TV show could help her get healthy.

Charity Pierce, of Cedar Rapids, weighs 765 pounds. She said she's always been a heavy person, but a medical condition called lymphedema has made things worse. The Mayo Clinic lists lymphedema as a blockage in the lymphatic system that can cause swelling in a person's limbs.

In Charity's case, the condition has created extreme swelling in her left leg and hip. She can't fit inside many vehicles, meaning Charity often goes weeks without leaving her home. On top of that, it's hard for her to walk and exercise.

"The lymphedema feels like another whole person. It feels like cinder blocks hanging off you all the time," Charity said.

Charity said it has been tough to lose the weight with her limited mobility. Daughter, Charly Pierce, worries her mother will become bedridden.

"She's doing really well about trying to keep her mobility, but I feel like if she doesn't get help soon that's not going to be an option. She's just not going to last much longer," Charity said.

Charity believes gastric bypass surgery could help her lose hundreds of pounds in a year's time. She said doctors could then safely remove the swollen masses on her body. But, according to Charity, local surgeons will only perform the bypass if her weight is less than 500 pounds.

"I'm not going to make it if I don't have a gastric bypass," Charity said.

There is a chance Charity can get the surgery out of state. She's in the running to be featured on TLC's show "My 600-lb Life", which follows people as they try to lose weight after having a gastric bypass. To be selected, Charity needs to meet with a doctor in Houston, and see if he'll agree to do her procedure.

Charity said getting there will be a problem. Her condition means she needs to be transported by ambulance, a cost she can't afford.

"I feel that's the only safe way for me to go. If I gash my leg open I'm going to have to be in the hospital and then I'm not going to make it down there anyways for the consultation. I don't really want to take that chance," Charity said.

Charity is hoping the public can help her raise funds for transportation costs. She has setup a webpage to collect donations: http://www.gofundme.com/2f07n4

Charity said she's hoping to collect $4,000. So far she's raised about $300, and has a fast approaching deadline. Charity said she needs funds before her opportunity with the show expires at the end of April. The stakes are high, but her confidence is too.

"It's a very long road, but I'm going to get there," Charity said.

Charity said if she's approved for the surgery, her Medicaid will likely cover the cost.
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