Which cast members from TLC’s My 600-lb Life have died? While the show is equal parts inspiring and upsetting, My 600-lb Life follows people who have crossed far past morbid obesity into the realm of life-threateningly overweight — and their journey to get healthier. The hit reality show features now-famous Houston doctor Younan Nowzaradan, AKA Dr. Now, whose stringent low-carb, high-protein diet gets contestants prepared for potential bariatric surgery.
While My 600-lb Life has featured some dramatic transformations, and changed many lives for the better, some contestants haven’t fared as well — or even come out alive. While dropping hundreds of pounds during filming My 600-lb Life isn’t at all abnormal, the health risks of weighing 600, 700, or even 900 pounds are sometimes too much to overcome. And over the course of the show’s nine seasons, a number of cast members have sadly died. Here’s a look at the people who’ve appeared on My 600-lb Life, what they accomplished, and what ultimately did them in.
Henry Foots' cause of death isn't public
Henry Foots actually died once before he finally succumbed on May 16, 2013 (via the Houston Chronicle) — and a third time if you believe internet rumors. The season 1 fan favorite of My 600-lb Life had a pretty successful experience on the show, dropping from near 750 pounds all the way down to about 275, according to Starcasm. The affable Texas native was aiming to lose weight for his high school reunion and did a commendable job.
As a result of the weight loss, Foots underwent skin removal surgery to shed some of his leftover skin. During the second surgery, his heart stopped on the operating table, with Foots telling TLC, “There was the light to take me to heaven [but] I wasn’t ready for it.”
In 2012, Foots was behind the wheel of a shuttle bus when he lost control and sadly killed a woman standing on the street. The accident subsequently led some on the internet to speculate that Foots had died in the crash. This wasn’t the case, however, and Foots lived for another year before finally dying in May of 2013. His cause of death hasn’t been made public.
Sean Milliken from My 600-lb Life died in 2017
Cameron Park, California’s Sean Milliken was one of the biggest stars ever of My 600-lb. Life, tipping the scales at over 900 pounds at his heaviest, according to the Daily Mail. During his time on the show, Milliken sought help because he knew he wouldn’t live to see 30 at his current weight, and couldn’t stand up for more than half a minute. The star left bed for the first time in years to travel to Houston, seeking potentially life-saving surgery with Dr. Now (via People).
Milliken’s confinement to bed stemmed from a leg injury he suffered during high school. But his overeating began because of his strained relationship with his father. Sadly, Milliken’s mother died in 2017 due to complications form kidney issues. Perhaps somewhat ironically, his father was the one who broke news of Milliken’s death to the world via a Facebook post, according to Daily Mail. He said his son had died due to complications from an infection, adding his son had been a good man with a good heart.
My 600-lb Life's James King ultimately died of kidney failure
When James King appeared on My 600-lb Life during season 5, he was the heaviest cast member in history at an astonishing 791 pounds, according to The Sun. By the time the program’s My 600-lb Life: Where are They Now? spinoff aired, he’d shot up to 840 pounds. King got so heavy that Dr. Now even called Adult Protective Services on King’s wife, assuming she was illicitly feeding her husband while he was in the hospital trying to lose weight ahead of surgery. King was summarily let go from Dr. Now’s program.
King was never in fantastic health, ending up in intensive care in 2017 for cirrhosis, kidney failure, and sepsis; according to The Sun, this led to premature rumors of his death. By 2020, King’s health had worsened, and after an extended stay in the hospital he ultimately died of kidney failure. One source told The Sun that King went into septic shock, and died weighing about 500 pounds. “He would have been proud of himself,” the unnamed insider told the tabloid. King’s funeral was kept private as his death occurred during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rob Buchel died of a heart attack in 2017
New Jersey native Robert Buchel became the first person to die while filming his episode of My 600-lb Life when he passed away of a heart attack on November 15, 2017, according to Starcasm. He’d joined Dr. Now’s program in hopes of losing weight ahead of his upcoming wedding, and made pretty good progress at first. Buchel’s weight peaked at 842 pounds, but he shed 124 of them during his first month on the program. He lost 98 more pounds at a rehab center, then another 78 before he got surgery to remove a lymphedema mass that made losing weight harder.
But after the surgery, things got dark for Buchel. Though he’d lost 340 pounds and was down to a manageable 502, Buchel had also developed an addiction to pain medication. The addiction was so strong at one point, he tore some of his surgical stitches trying to get more painkillers. Buchel went back to rehab, but wouldn’t exercise at all without pain medication. Ultimately, he suffered a heart attack and died. Dr. Now commented in memoriam, “Robert battled an addiction and lost but he never gave up.”
My 600-lb Life's James Bonner killed himself in 2018
While many of the stars of My 600-lb Life who’ve sadly died did so due to health complications brought on by their weight, James “L.B.” Bonner’s story is far darker. Bonner had a relatively successful experience on My 600-lb Life, going from 642 pounds at the show’s beginning to a noteworthy 324 pounds, according to TMZ. And his weight loss continued even after the cameras stopped rolling.
But losing weight didn’t quiet whatever demons haunted Bonner, and in the summer of 2018 he penned a foreboding Facebook post, saying, “I just want to say thank you to everyone who has shown me love and support throughout my journey… I’ve realized a few things over the last few days and it’s time that I face my demons head on.” Later that week, Bonner was found dead in a park in his hometown of Lexington, South Carolina, the victim of a gunshot wound to the head. Shortly after, local police ruled the death a suicide. Bonner was only 30.
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 from My 600-lb Life died in August of 2018
One of the more shocking cast members to ever appear on My 600-lb Life was then 49-year-old Lisa Fleming. The Mobile, Alabama native revealed during the show she’d turned to eating as a child to deal with her parents’ divorce; she later developed an even unhealthier relationship with food when her mother used eating to punish her. According to The Cinemaholic, one particularly disturbing incident involved Fleming’s mother forcing her to eat an entire cake by herself after she’d tasted some without permission.
Fleming also told a story of finding maggots in the folds of her skin after she topped out at over 700 pounds. That stomach-turning episode led her to seek help, which she found with Dr. Now and My 600-lb Life. While on the program, Fleming was confined to bed, and needed seven paramedics to get her out, according to TMZ. And though Fleming’s daughter told TMZ Lisa had been chronically ill before the show, Lisa managed to lose 200 pounds after filming wrapped. Still, Fleming’s poor health ultimately got the better of her, and in late August 2018 she died, the second cast member to perish that month after James Bonner.
Kelly Mason had a heart attack in her sleep
One of the most heartbreaking patients ever to appear on My 600-lb Life was Kelly Mason. The North Carolinian came to Dr. Now weighing in at over 700 pounds, suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, thyroid issues, pulmonary embolism, and a blood clot in her leg. Oh, and she’d also just been in the hospital for congestive heart failure, according to Distractify. As Dr. Now so bluntly put it, “Every day is a question of whether you’ll survive or not.”
But Mason worked hard. After Dr. Now sent her to a hospital she dropped 100 pounds. She lost another 220 while prepping for weight loss surgery, and ultimately lost 324 pounds while awaiting surgery. “It feels like the first day of a new life, actually,” she said when leaving the hospital. But her new life was short lived. In one of the saddest moments in the show’s history, audiences saw Dr. Now take a call from the Houston coroner telling him Kelly died of cardiac arrest in her sleep. She was the second cast member to pass away during filming.
My 600-lb Life's Coliesa McMillan died in 2020
The most recent cast member of My 600-lb Life to pass away was Coliesa McMillan, a season 8 star who dropped 150 pounds during her time on the show, according to The Cinemaholic. While an impressive feat, Dr. Now still didn’t feel McMillan had lost enough weight to qualify for weight loss surgery. But she complained of chronic stomach pain, and Dr. Now feared she might have a blockage in her intestines that would prove fatal. McMillan’s weight made it impossible to determine what was causing the pain, so Dr. Now did the weight loss surgery despite his gut feeling.
Soon after the surgery, McMillan began experiencing more issues. According to Starcasm, McMillan’s niece reported that a suture from her aunt’s gastric sleeve popped, causing severe sepsis. McMillan was then on a ventilator for two and a half weeks, before being put into a medically induced coma and placed on life support. Though she survived, it wasn’t for long, as she ultimately passed away in September of 2020 (via TMZ).
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