Hundreds of people have donated to support a man who is about to undergo surgery to remove excess skin after losing more than half of his body weight.
Thomas Teneti, of Ngāti Porou and living in the Gold Coast, has lost more than 150kg.
“I’m on this programme called Putting Health at the Top, PHATT for short, and I started on the third of December 2017. I weighed in at over 300kg and I’m now 147,” he told Te Kāea.
A gofundme page has been set up with a goal of raising $20,000 to cover his hospital care and so far it has received over $11,000 from 250 donors.
Thomas has lost more than half of his body weight. Source: Thomas Teneti, Facebook.
Teneti, who grew up in Tikitiki, Gisborne, started losing weight after coming out to his whānau.
“It started with me coming out to my family after 30 plus years of being gay and that’s when I wanted to get my life back on track.”
He says he used to eat an excessive amount of food in an attempt to end his life.
“I didn’t want to use a gun, I didn’t want to use a rope - I wanted to hang around a lot longer so I used food to end my life,” he says.
Thomas goes for walks to keep active. Source: Thomas Teneti, Facebook.
Teneti received support from his whānau about his revelation and it felt like a weight off his shoulders.
“It was just a story in my head that I built that they would disown me, that they wouldn’t love me but they proved me wrong,” he says.
This weekend Teneti will fly to Perth where the operation will take place.
He says he's looking forward to having more freedom, "without having this big huge puku in front of me".
“It feels amazing. To lose the weight and be able to do things that we all take for granted is amazing. It’s like a second chance to get my life back."
Donations to support Teneti's journey can be made here.