Most viewers tune into the TLC reality series My 600-Lb Life because they are genuinely rooting for the program’s participants. For nine seasons, we’ve watched morbidly obese patients fight to reclaim their lives through diet, exercise, and surgery. While the series has produced many success stories, there have also been failures. Even worse, a number of people who were once under the care of resident medical expert Dr. Now have died. Get the sad details on all of the My 600-Lb Life deaths that have occurred in the nine years since its debut.
Season 1 fan favorite Henry Foots was 715 pounds when viewers were first introduced to him. He attributed his size to lifelong binge eating, but he was ready to make a lasting change when his high school reunion was just around the corner.
Dr. Now helped Foots achieve his goals. After changing his diet and undergoing both gastric bypass and skin removal surgery, he whittled himself down to 275 pounds.
People were thrilled to see the kind, optimistic 47-year-old get a new lease on life. But unfortunately, tragedy struck in 2012. Foots was working as a shuttle bus driver in Houston and fatally struck a pedestrian. Detectives believed that an unidentified “medical episode” caused Foots to lose consciousness just before he struck an SUV and the victim.
Just six months later, on May 16, 2013, Foots died of causes that were never made public. The Cinemaholic reports that his passing was unrelated to his weight loss or the shuttle crash, but we may never know the real reason.
New Jersey native Robert Buchel weighed as much as 903 pounds before he finally sought the help of Dr. Now. He joined Season 6 of My 600-Lb Life with guns blazing, losing 124 pounds in the first month and 170 more by the time he completed lymphedema removal surgery.
Unfortunately, his depression and pain killer addiction was as challenging to overcome as his food addiction. His heart ultimately gave out on him, and he died of cardiac arrest on Nov. 15, 2017, during filming.
“To carry all this weight is physically draining, mentally, emotionally taxing,” Buchel said in the episode. “It’s not a pain or life I’d wish on anyone because I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything for anyone.”
Lisa Fleming is another heartbreaking casualty from Season 6. The Texas resident was 705 pounds when she first appeared on My 600-Lb Life, but she was not the only person in the family to struggle with weight. Her mother had already died from obesity-related issues.
Fleming lost 200 pounds after undergoing weight loss surgery, but the years of abusive eating finally caught up to Fleming in August 2018—just months after appearing on the show.
“At the end she was sick and her body was tired and her body just gave out,” her daughter Danielle told TMZ.
“I am truly at a loss for words right now,” she wrote in a Facebook announcement, as reported by People. “This morning I sat and held your hand for 4 hours knowing nothing I could’ve done would bring you back to me. Anybody who knows me knows I gave my mother my ALL! … I’m happy you’re no longer in pain and stuck in that bed.”
Renee And Sean Milliken
Sean Milliken was only in his twenties and weighed an all-time high of 1,003 pounds when we were introduced to him on Season 4. Life-saving weight loss required mandatory hospitalization. He managed to drop down to 548 pounds, but a Where Are They Now? special revealed that he was struggling to keep the weight off.
Milliken needed serious emotional and mental help, mostly due to his enabling mother, Renee. Although she didn’t appear on the show as a patient, she was involved in her son’s life 24/7 and seemed to thrive on their codependent dynamics.
When Milliken’s mother died of kidney failure in 2017, he took the loss quite hard. Two years later, in February 2019, he died of complications from an undisclosed infection.
James King entered Season 5 weighing 791 pounds; sadly, by the time he appeared on a Where Are They Now? episode, he was 840 pounds. Dr. Now believed King’s wife Lisa was the reason his patient was unable to shed the excess weight—he even went as far as to call Adult Protective Services on her for undermining his prescribed eating plan.
King eventually managed to lose 340 pounds, but in April 2020, he died at age 49. The official cause was kidney failure, but a source told the Sun that he went into septic shock. He had a previous visit to the ICU in 2017 for sepsis, cirrhosis, and kidney failure.
James “LB” Bonner is the third cast member on Season 6 who has passed. Sadly, the cause of his death had nothing to do with his physical health or weight loss journey.
In fact, Bonner’s success on My 600-Lb Life was commendable. He dropped from 642 to 324 pounds and continued losing even more weight after the show stopped filming.
But in the summer of 2018, he posted a cryptic message on Facebook that read, “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.”
He was later found dead in a Lexington, South Carolina park with a gunshot wound to the head. The county coroner ruled it a suicide. Bonner was 30 years old.
Coliesa McMillian has already survived a heart attack and weighed 643 pounds when she appeared on Season 8 of My 600-Lb Life. Weight loss surgery led to a 145-pound loss and effusive praise for Dr. Now.
“[He] is just like my own personal angel,” she said.
Sadly, McMillian later suffered from complications related to the surgery. According to her niece, McMillian was put on a ventilator for two-and-a-half weeks before doctors decided to put her into a medically induced coma.
By September 2020, TMZ reported that she was dead at 41. No exact cause of death was given.
Season 7’s Kelly Mason died just a day before her 42nd birthday. It was a tragic end for a person who many believed was the hardest working patient on the series.
Mason arrived on the show with a laundry list of health problems, including high blood pressure, a blood clot in her leg, type II diabetes, and arthritis. Despite the added challenges, she managed to drop more than 340 pounds on the show. She had finally qualified for surgery with Dr. Now when he received word that she had died in her sleep of a heart attack.
“At Kelly’s appointment with me a few weeks ago, her weight loss was on track,” said the doctor during the episode (via Distractify). “So, [her death] was not a result of her starting to go back to her old habits. She was working hard and doing what she needed [to do]. But despite that, the damage to her heart up to this point was just too severe.”
Gina Krasley was 556 pounds when she appeared on My 600-Lb Life, making her one of the heaviest castmates of Season 8. Viewers learned that her emotional eating was a coping mechanism for an abusive childhood, and they rooted for her as she struggled to peel off 50 pounds during her time on the show. She kept up the momentum after filming wrapped, and a year after her season aired, she posted a YouTube update to reveal that she lost another 100 pounds.
Krasley always tried to keep a sense of optimism on her journey, and she encouraged others to take weight loss one step at a time. But unfortunately on August 1, she died at age 30. Her family did not provide a cause of death, nor did they mention her appearance on My 600-Lb Life in her obituary. They asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to mental health charities.
Unfortunately, the list continues. In February 2022, Destinee LaShaee passed away, reportedly due to suicide. You might recognize her from Season 7, with a weight of around 700 lbs. During and after the show, LaShaee lost over 500 lbs! She was the first trans star on the show and made an incredible impact on viewers.
Unfortunately, LaShaee spoke repeatedly about her struggles with mental health. She said on the show, “I feel like all I’m constantly doing is trying to escape my depression and pain at this point. Food is the only thing I can turn to to do that. I can feel it killing me. There is no way I’m going to survive for much longer.”
Our hearts go out to LaShaee’s family and friends.
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.