“My 600-lb Life” is a reality TV show that airs on TLC, and focuses on morbidly obese patients who weigh 600lbs, 272kgs or more, many have weighed nearly 1000lbs or 454kgs. Others have struggled to move the scale, despite allegedly following the standard 1,200-calorie meal plan and a light to medium exercise split prescribed by Dr. Younan Nowzaradan or Dr. Now, the show’s primary physician and surgeon. He invites all patients to his Houston, Texas, clinic, where they receive guidance and regular check-ups after the doctor investigates their medical history.
However, while he foots the bill for their expenses, including live-in ones, Dr. Now cannot always look over their shoulder. That has allowed the patients to go back to their food and drink addictions, and if they do not heed his warning and get back on track, he can cut ties with them. Moreover, many patients have been obese for decades, which can change their bodies forever, thus even if they follow the diet plan and undergo a bariatric surgical operation to reduce their stomach size, their previous weight still puts them at a higher risk of death. Many have struggled with infections, diabetes, heart attack and stroke, and some patients have had mental health problems that their weight loss couldn’t solve, so died unexpectedly after leaving the show.
Although around 15 patients featured in “My 600-lb Life” have died so far, the toll is still low compared to the total number of patients Dr. Now has treated in over four decades specializing in bariatric operations. Unfortunately, while Destinee LaShaee showed promise when she debuted in season seven and reached her goal, her story was tragic. Here’s what happened.
Her sister’s death affected her profoundly
Destinee was a male-to-female transgender person who used she/her and they/them pronouns and was the show’s first patient who altered their gender. Her decision was inspiring enough for people struggling with gender dysphoria, but she showed that she had far more to offer. Destinee joined the show aged 27, weighing nearly 700lbs or 317kgs, and had lost 500lbs or 227kgs before her death. That made her journey one of the show’s biggest success stories, and showed the power of proper guidance, determination and accountability.
Sadly, her mental health did not improve as much. It all started when Destinee felt troubled and unaccepted when she came out as gay and then transgender, at which point she tried to commit suicide. She survived, but eventually, her brother Anthony died in her arms, scarring her mentally. Destinee lived with depression and comforted herself with food to cope with the pain.
She sought medical help and promised that she wouldn’t self-harm or consider taking her life, but said that the pain never disappeared. What seemingly pushed Destinee over the edge was the death of her sister, Destiny, about a year before she took her own life. Dr. Now seemed to try to help, but she sued his company with other patients in 2020, suggesting that he didn’t do everything in his power, whatever that might mean.
Her success was impressive
Destinee joined the show in 2019, in the 10th episode of season seven, aired on 6 March 2019. She said that she was born Matthew Brock Ventress on 11 July 1990, but never fitted in with her peers. Transitioning to a female made her happy, and noted that she loved her curves. However, she grew tired of her food addiction and wanted to improve her health, called Dr. Now, and he accepted her as a patient, so she relocated from Alexandria, Louisiana, to Houston, Texas, and stayed there until her death.
The scale showed 669lbs or 303kgs before Dr. Now gave her his traditional 1,200 calorie plan, based on lots of proteins and fibers and little to no carbohydrates and fats. Destinee started living a different life afterwards; she ate two to three meals daily, and the scale saw her weight go down at each subsequent check-up.
She eventually qualified for a bariatric surgical operation to shrink her stomach to the size of a golf ball. Dr. Now’s requirements vary based on the patient’s health and the operation’s difficulty, but the patient must weigh between 450lbs and 300lbs or 204kgs and 136kgs. When her episode ended, Destinee weighed about 440lbs or 200kgs, meaning that she had lost about a third of her starting weight.
Her mental health struggles were apparent
In the show Destinee was open about her anguish, which was the first step to improvement. She said, ‘I feel like I’m constantly 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.’ She told Dr. Now that she’d struggled with her identity and gender for years. Destinee clarified that what truly set her problems off was her brother’s death in her arms; Anthony had an aneurysm following a minor surgical operation that caused a blood clot, so he died quickly and unexpectedly.
Consequently, Dr. Now recommended that she attend therapy, as many patients do, and she reported seeing some results. Her doctors said that Destinee no longer planned to self-harm and had abandoned her suicidal ideations after several weeks, so they ended the sessions. However, that may not have been the entire truth.
She sued Dr. Now’s company
Only a year after her episode aired on TLC, Destinee joined several other patients in a suit against Megalomedia, the show’s production company under TLC that Dr. Now’s son Jonathan partially owns. They filed it in 2020 in Houston’s Harris County Court, and Destinee wanted $1 million in damages for negligence, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other things. She alleged that the company offered a single therapy session, and only so it could be filmed, despite claiming that they want to provide continued solid mental health treatment.
Destinee also accused them of ‘carefully scripting and managing scenes for dramatic effect,’ one of which was shaving her face on camera, a source of anxiety and stress for her. She also said that the company didn’t pay all the medical expenses that they promised to fund.
Destinee lost more weight afterwards
While the outcome of her lawsuit is unclear, as it probably required at least a few years of proceedings, fans knew that Destinee never let it impact her weight loss negatively. She updated her fans primarily via her Instagram account, @destineelashaee2018, on which she regularly spoke about her life. Destinee also spoke about Christianity, shared many inspirational quotes, and proudly told them that she purchased her dream car, a 2020 Chevrolet Camaro, shortly before her death. Her updates showed that she weighed around 200lbs or 90kgs in late 2021, meaning that she lost over two-thirds of her initial weight.
She was broken inside
Unfortunately, Destinee’s openness had a dark side, too. She frequently shared negative thoughts, but repeatedly stated that she believed in God’s plan for her. However, things took a turn for the worse in early 2022. Only a few weeks before her death, she left a vague caption on an Instagram post – ‘If I was surrounded by all my tears I’d be floating in the ocean,’ then captioned another image, in which she’s posing with an uncharacteristically serious look on her face, ‘Gracefully broken.’
Destinee also posted a long status on a private Facebook account under the name Destiny Compton, which initially seemed optimistic. She reiterated that ‘living with pain for so long made her realize that God makes no mistakes, so she didn’t regret anything and was grateful for her journey.’ However, in hindsight, it can be interpreted as someone’s cry for help, and contemplation about the purpose of daily struggle. She even seemingly said goodbye when she wrote, ‘To everyone who genuinely loves and supports me, I love you. And I’m grateful to have touched millions of lives and hearts around the world,’ before praying for everyone struggling.
Destinee also tagged her old Facebook account, Matthew Ventress, which was even more chilling in retrospect. She evidently used her sister’s Facebook account to post the message, and people only learned the significance of both actions afterwards.
Wayne announced her death
Nine days after her Instagram post and three days after her Facebook one, both of which were her last, based on all available information, Destinee, died by suicide. Her brother, Wayne Compton, shared the news about her death in a Facebook post on 8 February 2022, the day of her death. He said that he ‘accepted her for who she is, every flaw that came with her, and was sorry that she felt alone, with nobody else to turn to and no other option to continue.’ Wayne mentioned that Destiny, their sister, wouldn’t have wanted this outcome. Some media outlets reported that Destiny died on 8 February 2021, exactly a year apart, but a family member has yet to confirm that.
Regardless, it seemed that her sister’s death crushed her, and Destinee couldn’t continue with two siblings gone. That left Wayne in an even more challenging position, and he questioned why God kept taking his siblings, and wondered how much he could take with two sisters and a brother gone.
Destinee LaShaee, who was the first transgender star on the reality show “My 600-Lb. Life,” has died at the age of 30 >>> bit.ly/3Bi0t8c
TLC acknowledged that Destinee passed away at 31, with an unemotional, generic statement that ‘they are saddened to learn of the loss of Destinee Lashae [sic], whose weight-loss story was featured in “My 600-lb Life.”‘ Fans were upset that the company couldn’t bother to spell her name correctly.
Thankfully, the family included viewers in Destinee’s memorial service, held on 17 February 2022 at Zion Hill Church Family in Alexandria, Louisiana, and live-streamed on the church’s official website. Her memorial service announcement also suggested that her family brought her body from Houston for a funeral at an undisclosed date. That meant that Destinee was laid to rest in her home state, close to family, away from the clinic that changed her life for the better and, based on her lawsuit, for worse to a degree.