News Success Stories Lisiate Tupou

Lisiate Tupou

I got admitted to the hospital in May of 2015 and found out that I had cellulitis. I weighed 230 kg (over 500 lbs.) and both of my legs were in very bad shape. For almost two months, local doctors tried all kinds of treatments on my leg which never helped at all. I can’t explain how bad the pain was. I couldn’t sleep at night; the medication made me lose my appetite and I was in shock. I guess I was lucky to be alive at that point, but I had lost all hope. They were going to amputate both of my legs, or I would lose my life. . . that’s how bad it was.

Then in July, a mission team from the United States came to assist people like me. I was blessed to meet Rob Ferguson and his team. The evening before the surgery, Rob came and had a good look at my legs. I could see by the look in his eyes that he was quite concerned. 

We did the surgery in the morning to clean out the infection.  The following morning, Rob came back to check on my legs with his head nurse, Michelle. Unwrapping them was the most painful thing! Rob looked at them and said we had to perform another surgery because he could still see some infection. I said, “Yes, let’s do it again. I don’t want to lose my legs.” 

Two days later, Rob surgically cleaned out my leg again. Rob said, “Here’s the thing. You’re going to go back to your room and rest. Tomorrow morning at 7:00, I will come and inspect your legs. If I see any new signs of infection, then we will have no choice but to amputate your legs.” I couldn’t sleep after that! I could only pray all night “God, please don’t take away my legs.” My wife was right beside me the whole time.

At 7:00 the next morning, I hadn’t slept. I was just lying there. Rob and Michelle and the team walked in and unwrapped my legs. They were clean, and red, and no infection! It was the happiest moment of my life when I found out I’m going to keep both of my legs!

My whole family relies on me: my wife, my 8 children, and my father. I was selfish to let myself get in that situation.  It has taken me many years to learn to change my habits. I joined a fitness program. I quit drinking and smoking. And as of last Friday, I am down to 175 kg (386 lbs.) with a goal to lose another 50 kg (110 lbs.) by my next birthday.

I owe Rob and his team everything. I could never forget the love and the help they provided for me in a time of need. I believe their mission in Tonga is very helpful.

About `Amanaki Fo`ou

To help reach our goal of a diabetes-free future, the ‘Amanaki Fo’ou treatment team works side by side with local doctors and nurses in indigenous communities to train them in enhanced diabetes treatment skills. This process allows our team to treat patients on the island, while at the same time elevating the skills of the local medical teams so they can take over and continue to deliver enhanced care for the rest of the year.

For more information about the activities of our treatment team, click here

About `Amanaki Fo`ou

To help train the next generation for a diabetes-free future, ‘Amanaki Fo’ou currently has an internship program at BYU-Hawaii, where the student population includes many young people from the indigenous nations of the Pacific. There, interns work with our student mentors to learn about diabetes prevention, develop leadership skills, and promote community health.

If you’d like to learn more about our internship program, click here

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Dr. Rob Ferguson

Chair of Treatment Team

Co-founder of ‘Amanaki Fo’ou’ with wife Andrea Ferguson

Since 2013, Rob Ferguson has been working with ministries of health, medical professionals, government leaders, and hospital and clinic staff to address the management, treatment, and education on the sequelae of diabetes. Rob is a reconstructive surgeon and hospital system medical officer with Intermountain Health (based in Salt Lake City, UT). His focus includes training teams on surgical management of diabetic complications as well as working with local teams to recruit volunteer specialists to meet their goals and needs.



Rob graduated from Brigham Young University prior to obtaining his medical degree from the University of Virginia. His surgical and specialty training programs include the University of Kentucky, MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX), and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Taipei, Taiwan). He obtained a masters in business administration from the University of Utah.