My 600-Lb Life Stories That Didn't End Well

There are plenty of reality shows on television that document weight loss in a variety of different settings. But My 600-lb Life stands out from many of the rest, as it focuses on the real lives of real people in their everyday world — as opposed to a specialized environment crafted to melt off pounds ASAP. Additionally, the medical interventions offered on the show are scientifically proven to help patients keep a significant weight off in the long-term, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. That's a heartening statistic!

Unfortunately, not all of the patients on My 600-lb Life are able to maintain a successful weight loss, and, in some cases, never manage to lose much weight at all. Additionally, complications can arise for patients 600 pounds or more, as has been shown on the series and afterward the cameras stop rolling — sometimes with tragic results. Worst of all, some of the patients on the program have passed away either during or after filming, which is as devastating and heartbreaking as you might expect. Bearing that in mind, here are some of the stories from My 600-lb Life that didn't end well.

My 600-lb Life's Dr. Now makes the risks clear

Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, known to his patients as Dr. Now, may seem like an unlikely reality television star. However, he's the only person who appears in every episode of My 600-lb Life (in a significant role), and his skills as a surgeon are the reason why. Additionally, the veteran surgeon is not known for small talk, other than his customary, "Hello. How y'all doing?" greeting. But once that's out of the way, he is direct and honest with his patients, letting them know what they're facing without diminishing their humanity. 

Oftentimes, Dr. Now has given his patients a reality check, which isn't surprising given that the data available about the conditions related to obesity can be quite sobering. Some of the potential co-morbidities include social stigmatization and discrimination, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke, heart disease, depression, cancer, arthritis, and gout. Yikes, yikes, and yikes.

Many of the patients on the show eventually lose weight after therapy, diet modifications, increased exercise, and weight loss surgery. But, sadly, some of the show's stars either can't make the changes needed to get healthier or pass away due to stress on the body.

Robert Buchel

Robert Buchel's situation on his episode of My 600-lb Life was dire from the outset. It didn't take long for Dr. Now to discover that he not only weighed nearly 850 pounds, but that he also had an addiction to painkillers like Dilaudid — pretty serious stuff. But after a rocky start, Buchel was able to finally get some control over his compulsive overeating habits. The Forked River, NJ resident had a lot of love on his side, including that of his mother and his fiancée, Kathryn. With that support and a whole lot of work, Buchel managed to lose a significant amount of weight under Dr. Now's watchful care — almost 350 pounds, if you include the surgical removal of a lymphedema mass. That's impressive!

Unfortunately, the removal of the mass rendered Buchel depressed and longing for painkillers again. He even tore his stitches hoping to get more of them. Before the episode ended, Buchel passed away from a heart attack in November of 2017. Dr. Now was not shy about expressing his frustration at the medical system for its complicity in Buchel's addiction, which ultimately killed him. He also hailed him for being a fighter.

The Assanti brothers

Few of the stars of My 600-lb Life are more notorious than the Assanti brothers, Steven in particular. The pair may be bound by blood, but Steven's antics ensured that he and Justin were not very brotherly to one another. For one, he pretended that he was following Dr. Now's strict diet during the show, but was binge-eating unhealthy foods behind everyone's back. Additionally, he would manipulate and bully anyone, including his father, to get what he wanted. He also did his damnedest to continue abusing painkillers, including stealing Justin's — while he was healing from his gastric bypass.

Because of Steven's continued and repeated abusive behavior toward his brother (which started in childhood, according to a Reddit AMA Justin did), Justin ended up quitting Dr. Now's program, in spite of both his father's and Dr. Now's best efforts. He also accused the show of blackmailing him in a now-deleted Reddit post (via Starcasm). At the time of writing, he lives in Rhode Island.

It looks like Steven is out of the program too, as he's now living in Iowa — and surprisingly, married, according to Starcasm. Here's hoping they both get the medical care they need.

Sean Milliken

Sean Milliken seemed like he was moving in the right direction after a rocky start to his weight loss journey. After initially weighing in at nearly 900 pounds and being mostly immobile, Milliken was finally able to turn things around and get weight loss surgery. That, in turn, helped him drop hundreds of pounds and regain his ability to walk, according to his follow-up episode of My 600-lb Life: Where Are They Now? It was evident that he was putting in the work.

But in 2018, tragedy struck, and Milliken's mother passed away from renal failure, according to a follow-up video released by TLC (via TMZ). Understandably he was devastated, as he and his mother were extremely close. Additionally, since she was his supporter, he had to move out of his Houston apartment. He was clearly thrust into a very difficult situation, in more ways than one.

In another sorrowful turn of events, Milliken himself passed away in the hospital from complications from an infection in February of 2019. "He was having problems with his breathing," his father wrote on Facebook (via TMZ). "They were able to resuscitate him and a short time later his heart stopped." He was only 29 years old.

Penny Saeger

Having the courage to work with Dr. Now and appear on My 600-lb Life is not an easy one, as any of the show's stars would tell you. And unfortunately for some of the patients, they're just not ready, willing, or able to conquer their addiction to food. Such is the case with Penny Saeger, who appeared on the show in Season 2, and a year later on her follow-up episode. At first there was a ray of hope, as she was able to lose 40 pounds on a controlled diet, so Dr. Now approved her for weight loss surgery. 

However, after Saeger's gastric bypass, instead of losing weight she gained five pounds — clearly she was having food brought to her under the radar. Saeger eventually left Houston and moved back home to Maryland, quitting the program altogether against Dr. Now's medical advice. In her follow-up episode, he did not mince words, and said plainly that her addiction will indeed kill her in a matter of time. Yikes.

Saeger hasn't shown her face on her Facebook account in a long time, as of this writing, which only fuels speculation that her diet is not going well, despite her (in Dr. Now's words) "delusional" thinking.

Kelly Mason

Dr. Now is known for giving patients the hope that they need to turn their lives around and the tools to help them on their journey. That's what Kelly Mason was looking for when she made the long and arduous trip to Houston to meet with the famous surgeon. And when she arrived, viewers learned that she had a host of health issues that she was contending with: high blood pressure, a blood clot in her leg, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, thyroid problems, and heart problems. It was clear that she needed help ASAP.

Things started looking up for Mason when Dr. Now admitted her to the hospital, where she was able to lose over 200 pounds. She then had weight loss surgery, and dropped another 100 — quite the accomplishment! Upon discharge, she was hopeful, and was committed to sticking to her diet and exercise regimen. 

Sadly, Mason's heart had already been through too much, despite her best efforts. She passed away during filming in her sleep of a heart attack in February of 2019, according to Inquisitr. Dr. Now did point out, however, that she hadn't returned to her old habits — she went down fighting.

James King

Like many of the stars who appear on My 600-lb Life, when James King's episode aired, he was unable to leave his bed due to both his weight (close to 800 pounds) and a severe case of cellulitis, a painful skin infection. Additionally, King's family had made some huge sacrifices for him, including his daughter dropping out of school to care for him, and his father refinancing his home to get him to Houston (via ambulance) to see Dr. Now. That's... a lot.

When King arrived in Houston, he wasn't happy — and he hadn't lost the weight Dr. Now wanted him to, either. He dropped a bit while supervised, but soon thereafter, viewers learned that King had instead gained enough to weigh in at 840 pounds. Eventually Dr. Now told him to leave if he wasn't willing to adhere to the program.

In King's follow-up episode, things had not improved. In fact, Dr. Now actually called Adult Protective Services on King's girlfriend when he discovered King's organs were failing, and she was bringing him food while in the hospital. Dr. Now also dismissed him once again, citing his inability to make changes. Clearly, the situation wasn't good.

Sadly, King passed away at age 49 in April of 2020, according to TMZ.

James LB Bonner

When James "LB" Bonner's episode of My 600-lb Life premiered, he quickly became a Season 6 fan favorite. After struggling with food and alcohol addiction — and losing his a foot after an ATV crash — Bonner's weight ballooned to 650 pounds. Unable to care for himself and living with his parents, Bonner decided to seek help from Dr. Now, determined to make a change. 

By the end of the show, it was clear that Bonner was a success story. He went from 650 pounds to less than half of that, and was sticking to his diet and exercise regimen. Additionally, he had become a burgeoning social media star, with more than 8,000 Facebook followers, according to Starcasm. He was doing so well and losing so much weight that TLC put the quash on his photo and video sharing, which might have spoiled any follow-up episodes, or given too much away.

But sadly, no follow-up episode would ever air. That's because, tragically, Bonner committed suicide in the summer of 2018 at age 30, according to People magazine. The cause of death was a single, self-inflicted gunshot to the head. His motivation for ending his life is not known to the public, though his family came forward to share some of the battles he faced before his death. 

Schenee Murry

There's no question that what Schenee Murry endured as a child was horrific. In her episode of My 600-lb Life, viewers learned that not only was she molested as a child, but the abuse was so bad that she had to see a doctor because she was having problems using the bathroom. That's something no child should ever have to deal with.

In order to cope with the pain, Murry turned to food at an early age — and didn't stop eating until she was 780 pounds. Hopeful that she could turn her life around, Murry turned to Dr. Now for help. But she was never approved for weight loss surgery because she refused to follow the diet and exercise plan Dr. Now gave to her. She and her husband were even caught red-handed ordering pizza and burgers to her hospital room, much to the ire and chagrin of Dr. Now, who was not happy. 

Since then, Murry has posted a handful videos on her YouTube channel, some of them from hospitals due to her health. Fortunately, she claims to have lost weight on her Facebook page, so hopefully she's focusing on her health.

Henry Foots

Some of the most heartbreaking episodes of My 600-lb Life are those you see long after their original air date, once you know the person didn't survive. It's especially sad when they've put in the blood, sweat, and tears needed in order to lose weight and reclaim their lives, as Henry Foots did in Season 1, but never got the chance to turn it all around.

As one of the first stars of the show, Foots endeared himself to viewers with his kind disposition and sincere desire to show up to his high school reunion looking his best. Thanks to his hard work and determination, Foots went from 750 pounds to 275 pounds, an absolutely amazing accomplishment. He was literally less than half of the man that he used to be, poised to put his past behind him.

In a heartbreaking twist, however, Foots passed away in 2013, several months after having a medical episode while driving a bus, according to Starcasm. While his precise cause of death remains unknown, his passing is indeed an unfortunate reality. Foots' obituary is available here

Mercedes Cephas

Many of the stories on My 600-lb Life have especially tragic beginnings, wherein the show's stars suffer a horrendous childhood trauma, which is why they overeat in order to cope with their feelings. Mercedes Cephas of Season 7 is definitely in that category, having been raped by her father repeatedly starting at just 11 years old. He was also abusing her sisters, though she didn't know it at the time. 

Years later, Cephas weighed in at 773 pounds, but she was finally ready to start losing weight, and had made an appointment with Dr. Now. She was also dependent on her young children for care and struggling with a painful case of severe lymphedema — and wanted to be able to live a normal life.

However, Cephas was not able to do enough on her episode to qualify for weight loss surgery. By the time it was over, she had only lost 80 pounds, and was always full of excuses why it wasn't more than that. According to her Facebook profile, she's living in Cincinnati, which is a long way from Houston — so she's likely off Dr. Now's program. 

Lisa Fleming

One of the most awful things ever shown on My 600-lb Life happened during Lisa Fleming's episode, when her daughter discovered that there were literal maggots living in the folds of her skin. It seemed like that would be the wake-up call that got Fleming motivated enough to stick to the diet that Dr. Now had prescribed her, especially weighing over 700 pounds. That was also on top of needing a team of paramedics to get her out of her house.

Although Fleming did lose some weight while under supervision, she gained the weight again once she was back at home. As the show went on, Fleming's manipulative tactics became apparent, arguably some of the worst in the show's history. By the end of her episode, Dr. Now was clearly frustrated with Fleming's unwillingness to change, and dismissed her from his program.

Not a year after Fleming appeared on My 600-lb Life, she passed away at her home at age 50, according to Page Six — a heartbreaking end to a truly tragic story. 

Jeanne Covey

Jeanne Covey's life has not been an easy one, and it only seemed to get worse during her episode of My 600-lb Life. At the start of the show, she is shown living in a fairly unhygienic home along with her mother and father — the latter of whom struggled with severe mental illness. She had already survived abuse at the hands of her grandmother, and was molested by her mother's boyfriend (at the time) when she was only 6 years old. That's certainly way too much for a little kid to be dealing with.

By the time her and her mother, Barbara, arrived in Houston, things took a turn for the worse when Barbara had to be hospitalized due to illness. Afterwards, when they check in on Covey's father back at home, he is discovered dead in his bed. This was a seriously sad turn.

Unfortunately, everything proved to be too much for Covey, who decided she was not in the right place in her life to follow Dr. Now's program. Instead of staying in Houston, she decided to return home. Maybe she'll return to Dr. Now in the future — we certainly hope so.

Gina Krasley

Ever since she was a child, Gina Krasley turned to food for comfort and pleasure, even if she had to argue with and manipulate her mother to get it. But it was the abuse that Krasley suffered at the hands of her violent father that truly caused her weight to spiral out of control, causing her to overeat until she weighed over 600 pounds. With her marriage in trouble and her life on the line, Krasley turned to Dr. Now for help.

But despite Krasley's best efforts, on the eve of her weight loss surgery, Dr. Now called the procedure off, as Krasley had regained some of the 64 pounds that she'd lost. By the end of the My 600-lb Life episode, Krasley had an ultimatum on her hands: lose 75 pounds in three months or Dr. Now would no longer work with her.

While Krasley's episode didn't end well, a follow-up episode seemed imminent given the way things left off. However, it's not likely that we'll see one anytime soon as Krasley is one of the  cast members who have filed suit against the show's production company, Megalomedia, according to Starcasm.

Bethany Stout

It looked like things were going well for Bethany Stout for the majority of her episode of My 600-lb Life. By the eighth month, she had dropped over 100 pounds, after a successful gastric sleeve operation helped her to get below the 500-pound mark. Clearly she was putting in the work to improve her health and save her life.

However, it wasn't long after Stout reached that milestone that she started regaining weight, which quickly pushed her back over the 500-lb mark. Frustrated by her stalled progress and unwilling to seek out the therapy that Dr. Now wanted her to get, Stout ended up tearfully quitting the program (via Starcasm). By the end of her episode, Stout resolved to lose the weight on her own, convinced that she could find another way to do it.

Stout still hasn't given up, as is evidenced by posts on both her blog and on her Facebook page. Hopefully she can find her way to a happier ending.

Angela Johns

Some of the stars of My 600-lb Life are more adversarial than others, which is arguably the case when it comes to Angela Johns. At 643 pounds, she didn't accept much of Dr. Now's help and largely didn't do the work that he asked of her. She appeared to also be abusive toward her family, resorting to verbal putdowns when they didn't do what she asked of them.

Much of this behavior was likely due, in part, to John's past traumas, which are especially harrowing. A survivor of sexual abuse, Johns was raised by a parent with serious substance abuse issues. She also had to give away the baby that she had when she was barely a teenager, which was as a result of statutory rape.

Struggling with these traumas seemed to prove too much for Johns, who only managed to lose about 50 pounds by the end of her episode (via Starcasm). That coupled with her toxicology reports that found she tested positive for narcotics and her refusal to go to rehab resulted in her dismissal from Dr. Now's program.

Coliesa McMillian

Coliesa McMillian appeared on My 600-lb Life in a Season 8 episode of the show in 2020. The mother of four weighed 643 pounds at her peak, which is why she sought the help of Dr. Now, as she wanted to regain control of her life. And while McMillian did manage to lose a significant amount of weight and vowed to quit smoking before her episode concluded, things took a turn for the worse after the cameras stopped rolling.

According to Starcasm, McMillian was admitted to the ICU in the spring of 2020, after she suffered from a rupture in her gastric sleeve, and she had to be put in a medically-induced coma. Things were indeed dire for McMillian, though she did manage to rally while in the hospital after flatlining.

Sadly, McMillian passed away at just 41 years of age in September 2020, as noted by TMZ

Leneatha Reed

Leneatha Reed was the last person to appear on My 600-lb Life before filming was suspended in 2020. Previously, the pharmacy technician had gone viral on the internet after vowing to lose 451 pounds, according to Good Morning America. The reason? Reed wanted to be more active and involved in both her daughter's life as well as her own.

However, in spite of her initial motivation and genuine desire to turn her life around, Reed found Dr. Now's diet too difficult to follow. To that end, she started missing appointments, until it was clear that she wasn't losing the weight she needed to in order to qualify for weight-loss surgery. By the conclusion of her episode, which didn't end well, Reed had left the program altogether.

It's not all doom and gloom, though, as Dr. Now said that Reed would be welcomed back into the program — if she puts in the effort to show she's serious.