Pimp Her Surgery

A Land O' Lakes woman tries an innovative approach to losing weight — Internet sympathy.

click to enlarge BIG DREAMS: Kelly Brown wants to shed some extra pounds. And she's using cyberspace to do it. - Alex Pickett
Alex Pickett
BIG DREAMS: Kelly Brown wants to shed some extra pounds. And she's using cyberspace to do it.

She's 39 years old, 5 feet 3 inches and loves Bon Jovi. But most importantly, she wants you to know that she is 298 pounds.

"I'm overweight and I have health issues," she says, sitting on her large comfy couch watching an episode of Jerry Springer.

It's her day off, and she is relaxing in an XXL blouse and sweatpants that cling. A big bowl of peppermint candy sits on the opposite side of the couch, out of her reach.

Many things in the Browns' house are larger than life: her huge kitchen, three terribly obese cats, four plump birds that chirp incessantly, her extensive teddy bear collection.

"I've been wanting to get weight off for quite a while," she says, brushing away sandy blonde bangs from her face. "I've tried everything and nothing worked."

While some overweight people will switch to a new diet or join a gym to lose unwanted pounds, Brown sat in front her computer, surfed the Web and came up with the "Pimp My Surgery" campaign.

Copyright infringements be damned, Brown is seeking a savior along the lines of those auto mechanic angels in MTV's Pimp My Ride, only in her case she wants someone to help fix her own body, not her car's. Specifically, she's looking for someone willing to pay for lap band surgery — an $18,000 procedure, similar to gastric bypass surgery, that uses an inflatable ring to control the flow of food from the stomach to the rest of the digestion system.

"I'm just wanting to improve my health," she says, "and I was trying to find out creative ways that I might be able to do this."

Kelly Brown wasn't always fat.

She came into this world as a preemie baby weighing just over four pounds. She maintained an average weight throughout childhood and into high school. An active teenager, she played softball, rode bikes and roller-skated. She also had a bout with bulimia and diet pills. When she graduated, she was a rail-thin 110 pounds.

But after graduating high school, Brown says her habits began to change. She started driving places instead of walking. She partied, drank beer and made late-night fast food runs. By the time she moved to Tampa Bay two years later, Brown had already gained a hefty 70 pounds.

In 1996, after ending an eight-year marriage to an abusive husband, Brown weighed 225 pounds. A few years ago, she eclipsed 305. Health problems ensued. Today, Brown can't seem to go any lower than 298 pounds.

"I've been on a 'yo-yo diet,'" she says, describing her switch from Atkins to Weight Watchers to the expensive National Quick Weight loss Program. "I lose 20 and gain 30."

Brown says she's tried everything, including nutritionists, but has been unable to keep the weight down.

So, one day while selling some of her household items on eBay, she had an idea: post a photo of herself on the site and allow people to bid on her surgery. Friends of hers contacted Fox 13 news. The eBay story was picked up nationwide. But the next day, the site pulled her listing, stating the company does not allow charity postings.

"I was kind of mad about that because I had a bidder," she says. "I don't know if it was someone bidding for the whole thing or what, but that bidder never contacted me again."

Undeterred, Brown decided to create a MySpace page — www.myspace.com/pimpmysurgery — to gain support.

"Everyone looks on MySpace," she says. "If they tell their friends and they tell their friends, maybe there'll be someone out there that will see this and help me.

"I'm also looking for a doctor that might do this procedure for me," she continues. "In return, you know, he gets publicity, and that would help him out."

Brown says it's not all for vanity but health reasons too: Hypoglycemia, edema in her ankles, migraines and neck problems are all related to her weight problem. Last year, after a bump formed between the folds in her stomach and became infected, she was hospitalized for a week. Months later, she broke her ankle while walking.

"The doctor said if I wasn't heavy it wouldn't have broke," she says.

Brown says her weight problem also keeps her from doing the things she loves. She enjoys traveling, but can't fit in the airline seats. She used to go to amusement parks, but she is not allowed on the rides. She finds herself staying home out of embarrassment. She even skipped her 20th high school reunion this year.

Left with few options, Brown says she is banking on her Pimp My Surgery campaign.

"I'm not really looking for a handout," she says. "I have health insurance, but my health insurance won't cover this."

So far, Brown has nearly 500 page views and 133 friends but no takers willing to pimp her surgery. She remains hopeful that someone with an oversized heart will come through.

"I'm really anxious to get this done," she says. "I'm not going to give up."


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