Calif. medics transport morbidly obese man to Dr. Phil
Three emergency medical technicians and a paramedic helped Robert Gibbs, 23, onto a specially designed stretcher
By Jason Sweeney
Contra Costa Times
LIVERMORE, Calif. — A morbidly obese Livermore man who became a YouTube sensation was loaded into an oversized ambulance Sunday and taken to L.A. for an appearance on the nationally syndicated "Dr. Phil" show.
Neighbors and a KRON 4 camera crew looked on as three emergency medical technicians and a paramedic helped Robert Gibbs, 23, onto a specially designed stretcher that could accommodate his estimated 600 to 700 pounds. Gibbs was then winched up a ramp into the ambulance and on his way.
"We were out there to congratulate him and wish him good luck," said neighbor Patricia Cunningham, who watched the ordeal. "It takes a lot of courage to ask for help and he finally did."
Cunningham lives in the Leahy Square public housing project across the street from Gibbs, who lives in an apartment with his mother, sister and her two young children. Cunningham said she has known Gibbs and his family since she moved into her apartment four years ago. "He's a very sweet young man," she said.
She said Gibbs was big but mobile when she first moved in and that he used to go on walks with her son, Richard Cunningham, who has since moved to Stockton. She and her husband, Norm, said they hadn't seen Gibbs outside his apartment in about nine months.
Gibbs had gotten so big that he had lost most of his mobility and his health was deteriorating. On March 1, Gibbs made an emotional Internet plea for help the day before his 23rd birthday, stating that he had tried everything and could not lose weight. He said he hoped his video would go viral and that someone out there might help him, maybe even Dr. Phil McGraw.
The video did go viral, receiving more than 200,000 hits in 24 hours. Several people on YouTube responded with videos of their own giving advice and encouragement. Then reporters and camera crews showed up at Leahy Square. And, just as Gibbs had hoped, representatives from "Dr. Phil" gave him a call.
Gibbs signed an exclusivity agreement with the "Dr. Phil" show and is no longer returning calls from other media members. He is now in L.A. with his family.
The show is not expected to air until May.
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