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"She Literally Grew Into The Couch"
600-Pound Woman Dies After Being Surgically Removed From Couch
August 11, 2004

STUART, Fla. -- A dramatic rescue ended tragically in Stuart, Florida, a rescue so difficult firefighters say they have never seen anything like it.

It happened late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning at the home of a 600-pound woman who was having trouble breathing. Rescuers went in not knowing how difficult it would be to get her out. 40-year-old Gail Grinds was literally stuck to her couch and had to be removed surgically at the hospital.

Authorities estimate she had been on the couch anywhere from two to five years.

Martin County Fire amd Rescue crews faced what seemed to be an impossible mission. Everyone going inside had to wear protective gear. The stench was so powerful they had to blast in fresh air.

They tried to cut out the front door, but at four-and-a-half feet wide, it wouldn't work. They had to cut plywood since a normal stretcher wouldn't do.

An ambulance was too small, so they brought in a trailer to get her out. While rescue crews came up with a back-door rescue plan, detectives secured what had become a crime scene, questioning family members about how it got so bad.

Using planks, they loaded the woman on to the trailer, still attached to the couch. Removing her would be too painful, since her body is grafted to the fabric. After years of staying put, her skin has literally become one with the sofa and it must be surgically removed.

Detectives are investigating whether they have a case of neglect, or if it is simply a very sad story.

Grinds was taken to the Martin Memorial hospital where doctors removed her from the couch, but she died in spite of all the attempts to save her life.

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