A COUPLE have become one of the few husband and wife teams in the country to undergo weight-loss surgery together.

Factory worker Dave Brassell, 44, and wife, Debra, 37, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, who each previously weighed about 20 stone, say it has transformed their lives.

Mrs Brassell, who works at the town’s Asda store, urged anyone with obesity not to hide, but follow their example.

“Now, I have so much energy and just really enjoy life. I believe having the surgery has prolonged my life,” she said.

The pair, who underwent keyhole weight-loss surgery at Darlington Memorial Hospital’s new bariatric unit, are enjoying being slim for the first time in decades.

Mr Brassell, who works at the PPG aircraft paint factory in Shildon, lost nine stones after undergoing a gastric sleeve implant in January.

Meanwhile, his wife shed more than eight stone after having a gastric bypass last November.

“I think the hardest thing was walking into the seminar for patients who are thinking about having surgery,” she said.

“There were a lot of people there who were even bigger than me.

“It made me think, ‘I am not alone’.”

The couple urged anyone who is struggling with obesity and whose health was affected to talk to their GP about a possible referral for surgery on the NHS.

The Darlington bariatric surgery centre has operated on 30 patients since it opened in September and many more are being prepared for surgery. Spending on NHS weight-loss surgery in the North-East has soared in recent years.

In 2008-09, £1.7m was spent on weight-loss surgery, but that more than doubled to £3.6m in 2009-10 and rose again to 4.6m in 2010-11.