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My 600-Lb Life Stars You May Not Know Passed Away

Since 2012, reality TV viewers have been given an intimate look into the struggles faced by the participants in TLC's series "My 600-Lb Life." The program details the conditions which lead participants — each of whom weighs at least 600 pounds — to Texas-based surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan (a.k.a "Dr Now."), who places them on a weight loss program of diet and exercise before offering an option of gastric bypass surgery or a similar procedure, which greatly reduces the patient's food intake.

"My 600-Lb Life" has chronicled many success stories following treatment by Dr. Now, with patients experiencing greater physical, emotional, and mental health. However, the series has also seen its share of tragedies. Eleven participants in various seasons have died from various causes since the show's debut, including several who have died in the course of production. Here are the stars of "My 600-Lb Life" you may not know passed away.

Spoilers will follow.

Henry Foots suffered tragedy after weight loss victory

Texas-born Henry Foots was one of the first individuals showcased during the debut season of "My 600-Lb Life." According to the Cinemaholic, his lifelong food addiction had left him with a weight of more than 700 pounds by the age of 47, which prompted him to seek out Dr. Now's program. After adopting the dietary requirements and undergoing gastric bypass surgery, Foots dropped 340 pounds.

Foots remained even more determined to bring himself back to health after his heart stopped during his second skin removal surgery. Revived by doctors, he pressed on and brought his weight down to 275 pounds. Now able to return to his previous life, Foots began driving a shuttle bus, but as Click2Houston reported, he suffered what was described as a "medical episode" in 2012 that resulted in his vehicle striking and killing a pedestrian in 2012.

One year later, Foots died of unspecified causes on May 16, 2013. He was the first of the eventual eleven participants on "My 600-Lb Life" who passed away over the course of the series' run.

Sean Miliken's home life complicated his recovery

Introduced in Season 4 of "My 600-Lb Life," Sean Miliken was saddled with weight gain that, at its highest, topped 1,000 pounds (per the Cinemaholic) as a result of childhood abuse and a high school injury. Complicating matters further was his codependent relationship with his mother, Renee, who provided him with an abundance of food in the hopes of healing his emotional wounds.

The dynamic between Sean and Renee proved to be the biggest hurdle for Dr. Now to overcome in his attempts to aid the young man. Sean actually gained weight after undertaking the doctor's 800-calorie-a-day meal plan, which resulted in his hospitalization. The stay proved beneficial, with Sean losing over 250 pounds, but upon returning home to Renee, he regained nearly 50 pounds.

A cycle of weight loss and gain followed: Sean lost a staggering 455 pounds after undergoing bariatric sleeve surgery, but gained weight under Renee's care. Dr. Now suspected that a situation that resembled Munchausen by proxy — a mental health condition described by the Cleveland Clinic as when a caregiver conflates or lies about a loved one's illness — and readmitted him to the hospital, which renewed the revolving door of loss and again all over again.

Renee's death in 2017, combined with the loss of his home in Hurricane Harvey, only exacerbated Sean's health problems. His weight ballooned from 493 pounds to 688 pounds and then down to 489 as he transitioned time and again from hospital to home. After returning from a hospital stay in 2019, Sean died of complications from an infection, which led to cardiac arrest, on February 17, 2019. He was only 29 years old at the time of his death.

James King struggled with Dr. Now's program

At 791 pounds, James King was the heaviest individual to ever appear on "My 600-Lb Life" at the time of his appearance on Season 5. King's weight – the result of overeating brought on by childhood abandonment and the unthinkable double tragedy of his mother's death and the loss of his family home on the same day (via Deadline) left him reliant on his wife, Lisa, and children to care for his basic functions. At the urging of his father, King signed up to appear on "600-Lb" in 2017.

His tenure on the series was marked by turmoil: King was reluctant to follow Dr. Now's diet and exercise plan, and like Sean Miliken, actually gained weight rather than losing it. After topping the scale at 840 pounds, Dr. Now confronted King and his wife about his eating habits, which led to his dismissal from the program.

King did manage to lose an exceptional amount of weight — 340 pounds by 2020 — but as People (via TMZ) noted, a series of health complications, including liver and kidney failure, preceded his death at the age of 49 on April 3, 2020.

Robert Buchel: another tragic first for 600-Lb Life

While Henry Foots was the first "600-Lb Life" participant to die during the series run, New Jersey native Robert Buchel was the first to pass away during filming of his respective episode. Buchel weighed 842 pounds when he appeared on Season 6, the result of lifelong overeating motivated in part by assault at the hands of a neighbor and the death of his brother at the age of 19.

Buchel lost more than 100 pounds during his first month in Dr. Now's program, and soon after lost nearly another 100 pounds, which allowed him to walk on his own – something he had been unable to do for some time. Surgery to remove lymphedema masses — tissue swollen by the body's inability to drain fluid through its lymphatic system — allowed him to bring his weight down to 502 pounds.

However, the surgery also left Buchel addicted to pain medication, which upended further progress on his health recovery. On November 15, 2017, the 41-year-old Buchel suffered a heart attack in his sleep and died after being rushed to a nearby hospital.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

L.B. Bonner faced his demons and lost

The death of a beloved aunt spurred South Carolina native James "L.B." Bonner to develop an overeating problem as a child, which ultimately brought him to "My 600-Lb Life" in Season 6. At the time of his appearance, Bonner was dealing with challenges on multiple fronts: an addiction to both food and alcohol, the loss of a foot in a vehicular accident, and a body weight that topped 600 pounds left him unable to care for himself.

After committing to Dr. Now's program, Bonner dropped 316 pounds, and after undergoing weight-loss surgery, he wrapped his tenure on "600-Lb Life" weighing 326 pounds. Bonner continued to maintain what appeared to be a healthy lifestyle and lost additional pounds, which he detailed via his social media accounts. However, his outwardly positive attitude also disguised an inner turmoil that would lead him to a fateful decision.

In a social media post in August 2018, Bonner wrote that he had "realized a few things over the last few days," and decided that it was "time that I face my demons head-on." People reported that a welfare check by police to his home in Lexington, South Carolina found the 30-year-old Bonner dead from a self-inflicted wound. Following his death, Bonner's family filed suit against Megalomedia, the production company for "600 Lb-Life," claiming that they did not provide mental health assistance for participants, and alleging that they ignored warning signs of Bonner's mental state. 

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Lisa Fleming fought to regain her life

Personal tragedy was and is a recurring theme in the backstories of many "600-Lb Life" participants, but Lisa Fleming's past, which brought her to the series in Season 6, was particularly harrowing. Food was a solace to Fleming as a child, especially after her parents' divorce, but it was also a punishment: she revealed that her mother made her eat an entire cake after taking a small taste. The murder of her brother further complicated her emotional issues, which led to a total weight of 704 pounds when she appeared on the series.

Left immobile by her weight, and trapped in the same bed in which her mother died from obesity-related problems, Fleming sought to break the cycle of self-abuse through Dr. Now's program. However, she found it difficult to stay the course and lose the pounds needed for weight-loss surgery, and was dropped from the program after six months.

Shortly after the airing of her episode, Fleming died of a heart attack at the age of 50 in August 2018. Her daughter, Danielle, revealed that she had actually lost enough weight to undergo the surgery and dropped 200 pounds. However, as Danielle noted to TMZ (via The List), "her body was tired, and her body just gave out."

Kelly Mason was determined to lose weight

Season 7 introduced "600-Lb Life" viewers to Kelly Mason, a North Carolina native whose 725-pound weight had brought on a host of health issues, from high blood pressure and heart problems to type II diabetes, blood clots, and arthritis. Mason had been hospitalized for congestive heart failure shortly before meeting with Dr. Now, who told her in no uncertain terms that her life was in jeopardy if she did not begin a weight-loss program.

Mason proved to be one of the most dedicated participants in Dr. Now's program: she lost more than 200 pounds before qualifying for weight loss surgery, and remained committed to maintaining her health after the procedure. After losing an additional 100 pounds, Mason weighed in at 383 pounds. Unfortunately, she was unable to beat back her myriad of health issues, and the 41-year-old died in her sleep after suffering a heart attack in the 10th month of her time in the program on February 15, 2019.

Coliesa McMillan had serious health problems

As Kelly Mason and other "600-Lb Life" participants have shown, excessive weight brings with it a host of other health problems. Season 8's Coliesa McMillan also underscored this issue: trauma throughout her life, brought by family members and a relationship, had not only left her with a weight of 643 pounds, but also in precarious health after suffering a heart attack at the age of 39.

Her progress on Dr. Now's program was slow, but she eventually dropped 150 pounds — a significant amount, but not enough to qualify for corrective surgery. However, the doctor proceeded with the operation, partly due to his concern over an intestinal blockage that might have proven life-threatening. McMillian's niece later related (via Starcasm) that she began experiencing complications soon after the procedure, including a "popped suture" that led to sepsis and a medically induced coma.

McMillian's niece later revealed that her aunt had flatlined and subsequently was put on life support. She eventually recovered but returned to the hospital a few months later and died at the age of 41 on September 22, 2020.

Gina Krasley filed suit against 600-Lb Life's producers

Gina Krasley appeared in Season 8 to contend with weight gain that had rendered her, in her own words (via USA Today), "immobile." Family issues, including abandonment and abuse by her father, spurred to her to see solace in food; she weighed more than 300 pounds by her teenage years and eventually surpassed 600 pounds, which sent her to Dr. Now for help.

Krasley reportedly lost 50 pounds while filming Season 8 in 2020, and noted on her YouTube channel (via Deadline) that she had lost nearly 300 pounds by 2021. But she also contended with numerous health problems, including hospitalization for an infection in 2021 and nerve issues in her hands and feet that resulted in her losing the ability to walk. Krasley was also one of nine former "600-Lb" participants who sued the series; her lawsuit alleged negligence to her mental health problems on the part of the show's production company, Megalomedia.

NJ.com reported that the 30-year-old Krasley died at her home on August 1, 2021. No cause of death was given.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Renee Biran rose above her difficult early life

As with many participants on "600 Lb," Renee Biran came to Dr. Now in Season 6 after a lifetime of trauma led to weight gain that put her health in considerable jeopardy. Family problems, including molestation by her stepfather, followed by teen pregnancy, an abusive marriage, and a debilitating car accident left the Georgia native at 631 pounds and dependent on her six children for her basic needs.

A strict diet and therapy prescribed by Dr. Now appeared to help her reduce enough weight to qualify for bariatric sleeve surgery, which led to Birac dropping a total of 250 pounds during the course of her appearances on the show. However, as Screen Rant noted, her health problems continued after her departure from the series, most notably through a diagnosis of the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

The Cinemaholic noted that fans of Biran, who kept up with her post-show progress via social media, saw fewer posts from her after the beginning of 2020. A year later, word came via social media and online obituaries that Biran had died at the age of 56 on May 14, 2021. No cause of death was given.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Ashley Randall was the series' youngest participant

Just 24 years old at the time of her appearance in Season 1 of "My 600-Lb Life," Ashley Randall was the youngest participant on the series. However, she shared a background similar to many of the other individuals showcased on the program: Randall struggled with a mother whom she viewed as demeaning in her comments about her weight.

Randall weighed 617 pounds when she contacted Dr. Now, but her determination, as well as gastric bypass surgery, led to her achieving a weight of 265 by the end of her fifth year in his program. However, the Cinemaholic reported that the death of her father in 2015, as well as her inability to achieve the weight needed for a skin removal surgery, upended her program, and at the time of her appearance on the "Where Are They Now?" special, Randall's weight had risen to 312 pounds. She returned to Now's program, and with the support of her mother, with whom she had mended fences, she dropped back down to 272 pounds.

Details regarding Randall's life after that final appearance were few, but an online obituary confirmed that after being hospitalized in her hometown of Killeen, Texas, she died on October 8, 2021. At the time of her death, Randall was only 40 years old.

Destinee Lashaee battled depression

Season 7 of "My 600-Lb Life" introduced audiences to Destinee Lashaee, who was the series' first transgender participant. Lashaee, who also used the name Matthew Ventress, struggled with both her weight (which had reached 699 pounds at the time of filming) and depression, which she sought to combat with food. "I feel like all I'm constantly doing is trying to escape my depression and pain at this point," she said on the TLC show (via E! News). "Food is the only thing I can turn to to do that. I can feel it killing me."

Determined to rise above her issues, Lashaee eventually lost more than 500 pounds after her appearance on "My 600-Lb Life," qualifying for skin-removal surgery. She also drew a number of followers to her social media accounts, where she regularly posted positive and affirming messages as well as photographs of her physical transformation. But, on February 8, 2022, her brother, Wayne Compton, posted news on his Facebook page that Lashaee had died (per People). Though no official cause of death was given for Lashaee's passing, her brother wrote in his post, "I'm sorry you felt alone, I'm sorry you felt you had nobody else to turn too, I'm sorry you felt you had no other option."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.