NEW YORK — Workers ripped out a bay window and several rows of bricks from a house Friday to remove a nearly 1,000-pound man--possibly the heaviest person in the world--and take him to the hospital.
Michael Hebranko, who once lost 700 pounds and became a spokesman for Richard Simmons' Deal-A-Meal diet program, was carried through the 10-by-5-foot hole on a stretcher used to move small whales. He was transferred to an ambulance by forklift.
Hebranko, 43, suffers from heart disease, respiratory ailments and a severe skin infection in his legs. He spent the last 2 1/2 months confined to a love seat in his Brooklyn home, unable to stand for more than 30 seconds. Because no clothes will fit his 110-inch waist, he sat wrapped in sheets.
"Doctors told us if he was not out of the house by Monday, he would be dead," said Steve Zakheim, president of Metropolitan Ambulance Co.
"It's not just a matter of pushing . . . away from the table," Hebranko said after the rescue. "This is a disease. It's not something to laugh at. It's an addiction."
On its way to St. Luke's Hospital, the ambulance had to stop about every 10 minutes to reposition Hebranko and keep him breathing.
Hebranko reportedly weighed 850 pounds in March and has put on 100 to 150 pounds since then. The Guinness Book of Records lists T. J. Albert Jackson of Canton, Miss., who once hit 891 pounds, as the heaviest man alive.
Hebranko, at 199 pounds, became a spokesman for Simmons' program several years ago. But he started gaining weight again two years ago.
"Emotionally, he was not ready to handle the metamorphosis from fat person to nice-looking man," Simmons said. "It was like the movie 'Big'--he became a kid again. And he couldn't handle it."