Donald Shelton

He survived a coma, beat drug and food addictions, and powered through an autoimmune disorder diagnosis to lose 295lbs under the watchful eye of Dr. Now. Where is he now? Often, on TLC’s “My 600-Lb Life,” a patient will come on the show with a story that pulls on the audience’s heartstrings, and has every viewer rooting for the patient’s successful weight loss. Donald Shelton was one such patient who had all viewers applauding for his efforts, celebrating with him when he dropped some pounds, crying with him when he received a shocking diagnosis, and hoping that he didn’t regress to his food addiction and substance abuse after his time on the show.

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In the second episode of the pilot season of “My 600-Lb life,” Donald Shelton told his story. At 34 years old, Donald weighed 675 lbs and lived with the threat of sudden cardiac death hanging over his head. Since his legs couldn’t hold his weight, Donald could barely walk and relied on his parents for support. He decided to take the first step in his weight loss journey by undergoing gastric bypass surgery. However, in typical Dr. Now fashion, Donald had to prove that he was willing to put in the work and show commitment to losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The doctor put Donald on a strict diet and exercise regime, and monitored his progress before booking the patient for surgery.

Life-threatening Surgery

When Donald lost enough weight and convinced Dr. Now that he was committed to the weight loss program, he underwent gastric bypass surgery, losing a total of 300 pounds from the procedure and the diet and exercise regimen on which he had embarked before surgery. However, due to his size and weight, the procedure was risky. One of the risks manifested after the surgery, when Donald suffered mobility issues and was confined to a wheelchair. Soon after the procedure, he slipped into a coma, sending his doctors into a frenzy as they rushed to find out whether the surgery had gone wrong. He woke up from his coma to the sad news that he had Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that caused his immune system to attack and damage his nerves.

On a Rollercoaster

The diagnosis drove Donald to a quick regression in his weight loss journey. Since the disorder robbed Donald of his ability to walk and threatened his mobility permanently, he couldn’t keep up with the prescribed physical exercises, and regained the 300 pounds he’d lost. Towards the end of his episode on the show, Donald was on a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain. He had resumed physical therapy, lost some of the weight he’d regained, and restored his ability to move around, then gained back 100 pounds after a bout of depression before cutting his weight down to 390 lbs after resuming hydrotherapy. He left fans conflicted in their predictions over whether he would finally commit to keeping his weight down or regress fully and gain it back as he had several times in the seven years he worked with Dr. Now.

Life after “My 600-Lb Life”

Donald proved the group of his fans who predicted that he would keep his weight off right. He grants his curious supporters glimpse into how he’s doing often through his social media. Over the past decade, Donald has shared several pictures that lead his fans to believe that he’s maintained the strict diet and exercise regimen Dr. Now recommended on the show. Sometime back, Donald shared a picture of himself looking a couple of hundred pounds lighter than he was on the show. Impressed fans rushed to the comment section to congratulate him for doing a great job at maintaining the monumental weight loss journey he started on the show, adding that he was an inspiration to people who are undergoing a similar struggle.

While Donald’s succeeded in keeping the weight off, he continues to struggle with mobility issues since Guillain-Barre syndrome, the autoimmune disorder that sent him to a comma and gave him permanent mobility issues, has no cure. According to an Instagram post he shared, he remains confined to a wheelchair, and identified as a person with a disability. However, he’s maintained the determination he showed on the show as he doesn’t let his inability to move around on his feet limit his movement. He insists that despite his condition, he gets out to do things he loves and has fun all the time. He maintains his independence of movement by using his scooter to move around Pasadena, Texas, where he lives.

Donald lost his father a few years after his episode aired leaving him with his mother as his only support system. She lives with him in Pasadena, and drives him around in her van when he needs assistance. However, her van isn’t equipped to carry around a handicapped person. Recently, Donald’s cousin, Kelli Martin, set up a GoFundMe page and organized a fundraiser to help Donald and his mother, Mary, buy a van that is equipped for handicapped people. In her call to fans and well-wishers for support, Kelli praised her aunt, Donald’s mother, for her selflessness and asked people to come through for her. As of January, this year, Kelli’s fundraiser had raised $1,180 for the van, which will be used to take handicapped people to and from church, alongside helping Mary transport Donald to doctor’s appointments and other places.

Kelli’s involvement in Donald and Mary’s lives is the product of the closeness in the extended Shelton family. Donald runs a family business in Pasadena with his extended family. However, he’s made no indication of planning to start his own family any time soon. The only mention of a significant other in his life was made during his time on “My 600-Lb life,” when his parents learned that he had a substance use problem alongside his then-girlfriend, who was a heavy user of cocaine and crystal meth. Since then, he’s openly stated in an update he made to his supporters about his love life, that he isn’t looking for a partner. 

Donald’s occasional posts on social media indicate that he’s doing well, enjoying life, and having fun in a loving and supportive environment in which he’s surrounded by his mother, cousins, aunts, and other members of his extended family. He goes to stadiums to watch his beloved baseball games live, attends rodeo shows, and promotes them on his social media. We can only wish him a full life as he continues to work hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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