EXCLUSIVE: Grandma, 52, left housebound for five years as BMI being ‘too high’ for knee surgery

Margaret McDonald, from Anniesland, Glasgow, says she has has been housebound since 2016 waiting to have knee replacement surgery but keeps being told her BMI is too high, in apparent contradiction to NHS guidelines

A grandmother has been left housebound for five years as her BMI is marginally too high to have knee replacement surgery.

Margaret McDonald has been waiting since 2016 to have the op done and claims she was the same weight – around 15-and-a-half stone – when she had surgery seven years ago on her other knee.

The 52-year-old, from Anniesland, Glasgow, has osteoarthritis and said the pain is so severe in her knee she was prescribed morphine doses similar to someone dying from cancer.

She’s been presented for surgery by her GP multiple times in five years but each time a pre-op assessment at the Scottish city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has led to her being told she is too heavy.

And despite attending reduced mobility exercise classes designed for OAPs seeing her lose over a stone, Margaret was still told her body mass index needs to come down.

A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde told the Mirror a BMI limit of 35 and under is a clinical requirement for this type of procedure.

With Margaret’s height of 5ft5in, her BMI is around 36, meaning she just misses the cut off.

NHS guidance also states while morbidly obese patients should not normally be listed for such an op, there can be exceptions when “all reasonable attempts have been made to reduce weight and there are compelling circumstances”.

After doing her own research, Margaret said patients in similar circumstances have found some private orthopaedic surgeons will operate beyond the 35 threshold.

She said each exercise class has left her bedridden for a day after due to knee inflammation, while a side-effect of the chronic depression medication she takes is weight gain.

Margaret’s psychiatrist has even been slowly reducing her dosage in an effort to help her shift the pounds – but she said losing a substantial amount in her condition is not possible.

The grandmother-of-three said her life is like a permanent lockdown, and she even had to have her beloved dog Bruno re-homed because she couldn’t take him on walks.

“I’ve lost my voluntary work that I used to do. I’ve lost doing things with my family, taking part in my grandkids’ activities. The impact it’s had on me has been incredible,” she said.

“I’ve been presented for surgery three or four times but every time I was told no, BMI is too high. When you’re immobile and nothing much you can do regarding exercise what are you meant to do?

“I don’t just sit and eat my face off all day and not care about my weight.

“I just can’t sustain [any physical activities] because of pain and immobility. The impact on everyday life is just horrendous.

“Getting dressed, doing day-to-day things that you take for granted.

“Anytime I need anything I have to go online because I can’t even walk around the supermarket or go to a park, there’s nothing I can do.

“It’s like being in lockdown for five years. You’re just existing, that’s about it – it’s a horrible existence,” she added.

Margaret’s daughter is her certified carer but has three young sons to look after as well and lives elsewhere.

Prior to her mobility issues she said she was far more active and even taught first aid as a volunteer.

She previously worked for the City of Glasgow College for 17 years and has been volunteering for the Scottish Police Authority, which she has been able to continue from home in the pandemic.

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: “While we cannot comment on individual patients, a BMI limit of 35 and under is a clinical requirement for us to proceed with procedures of this nature.

“We have every sympathy with patients who may struggle with their weight and provide advice and support to help reduce weight before surgery.

“Once BMI has been reduced, patients are reassessed with a view to progressing treatment. We are in touch with Ms McDonald and will work with her to achieve a positive outcome.”