Ryan Daffer lay sedentary in a Union Hospital bed January 2008 when the doctors told him and his mother he might not live to see another day.
But three-and-a-half years and 460 pounds later Daffer is an inspiration to many Brazil citizens who know him at the YMCA.
In October 2007, Daffer's lease was up on his Indianapolis apartment. He quit his job and decided to move back home to live with his parents.
"Even to get up and get ready to go somewhere became painful. My legs hurt, my feet hurt. Showering was a chore and getting up and going to work was an ordeal. I told my employer I couldn't be an asset to the company when I wasn't an asset to myself," Daffer said.
"I had always been a big guy, but I made poor food choices when I moved to Indianapolis to attend Indiana Wesleyan University. I ate at poor times. I ate to calm my nerves, and soon I was just eating to be eating," Daffer said. "I am not the type of person who likes to burden my friends with everyday problems and share private info. Eating was just another way to keep it all bottled up inside."
Daffer wanted to get out of the chair, but he literally couldn't. He couldn't move and was immobilized by the excessive weight.
"When I hit that point, I called some friends and helped me get up," Daffer said.
He had family take him to the hospital because he finally admitted he needed help.
"My mom told me, 'I was prepared for my son to never come home,"' Daffer said.
He was hospitalized for a week, spending two or three days in the ICU unit, but Union Hospital didn't have the ability and resources Daffer needed.
"You tell yourself you don't really have a problem, but by the time you realize you do have a problem there is nothing you can do about it. They told me they expected me to only have 72 hours to live," Daffer said.
They sent him to Harbourside Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Terre Haute. Daffer stayed at Harbourside for 90 days, making some major lifestyle changes. When he was released, Daffer had already lost 200 pounds.
"Before I lost the weight, I suffered from sleep apnea. All the weight around my neck was obstructing my airways and I couldn't breath," Daffer said.
He said a friend told him that he didn't know what to do or say to help Daffer.
"My friend said to me, 'If you had a drug problem, I wouldn't have been so scared or worried to help you, but since this was a weight problem, how do you bring that up in casual conversation?"'
After rehab, Daffer went to a specialist and requested gastric bi-pass surgery. He told the doctor how much weight he had already lost and the doctor told him to go home and see if he could lose more weight without surgery.
Daffer proceeded to lose an average of 20 pounds per month for the first three months after returning home. His doctor told him he didn't need the surgery.
"The doctor said I was the only patient in 22 years of practicing medicine that had lost this much weight on his own," said Daffer.
Today Daffer weighs around 275 pounds and hopes to lose another 30-40 pounds, which would mean he has lost 500 pounds. Some of his extra weight is due to the extra skin he still carries.
Daffer hopes to get plastic surgery to have it removed, but doesn't have health insurance that will cover the cost of the surgery. If he had the surgery he would already be at his personal target weight.
Daffer participated in the YMCA's Buddy Challenge were Y members pick a friend and each person encourages their partner to lose as much weight as possible and maintain a healthier lifestyle. This program is like a spoof off the television show "The Biggest Loser."
While participating in this program, Daffer met and developed relationships with more individuals like YMCA representative Deb Plumber.
"If I lost this much weight because of surgery, the insurance companies would pay for me to have it done, but since I did it on my own they don't want to pay," Daffer explained.
Plumber said Daffer's story helps other YMCA members and staff.
"He's been a really great inspiration, and it's really great what one person's lifestyle changes can do to affect the lives of others. He has a great attitude about life," Plumber said.
Plumber wants to encourage other community members to follow in Daffer's footsteps and change their lives for the positive too.
"It's only $32 a month for an entire family to use the facilities here at the Y. When you realize what you can do when you make small changes in your daily habits, it can make all the difference," Plumber said.
"Losing all this weight has been overwhelming and unbelievable," Daffer said regarding his new lease on life. "I was always withdrawn, but my friends always kept me included. It's great to gain a part of your life back. I've met a lot of people and established good relationships."
Daffer said his faith played a role in overcoming obstacles as well.
"I truly believe that the Lord above has blessed me. I could have ended up with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart problems, but I don't have any of that. I am smaller now than I was as a freshman or sophomore in high school," Daffer said.
He currently exercises at the YMCA everyday for about and hour-and-a-half and tries to maintain a healthier diet.
Daffer added that he advises anyone with similar problems as the one he had to "make the necessary changes and never give up. Remain faithful and you'll see the rewards at the end."