Image: Manuel Uribe
Monica Rueda  /  AP
Manuel Uribe, who once weighed 1,235 pounds, celebrates with champagne after leaving his home in San Nicolas de los Garza, northern Mexico, on Wednesday.
updated 3/8/2007 12:28:57 PM ET 2007-03-08T17:28:57

A man who once weighed well over a half ton left his house for the first time in five years Wednesday — wheeled outside on his bed to greet neighbors and see a mariachi band.

"The sky is beautiful and blue and what I want is to enjoy the sun," said Manuel Uribe, who had once been certified by doctors as weighing 1,235 pounds. Though still unable to leave his bed, Uribe has lost 395 pounds since he began a high-protein diet a year ago. He now weighs about 840 pounds.

To celebrate the milestone, six people pushed Uribe's wheel-equipped iron bed out to the street as a mariachi band played and a crowd gathered. Then, a forklift lifted him onto a truck and the 41-year-old rode through the streets of San Nicolas de los Garza, a Monterrey suburb.

With dozens of reporters and photographers in tow, Uribe traveled along, passing the town's plaza and church and waving at clusters of people eager to get a glimpse of him.

"It fills me with joy to see he's getting better and getting a little sun," Uribe's neighbor Guadalupe Guerra said. "I would go crazy if I had to be inside my house for so many years."

Uribe was a chubby kid and weighed more than 250 pounds as an adolescent. In 1992, he said his weight began ballooning further.

Relied on family, friends
Since the summer of 2002, Uribe has been bedridden, relying on his mother and friends to feed and clean him.

He drew worldwide attention when he pleaded for help on national television in January 2006. Afterward, an Italian and a Spanish doctor both visited and offered gastric bypass surgery.

But Uribe chose to accept help from Mexican nutritionists working with the Zone diet. He says he will stick to that diet until he reaches his goal of 265 pounds.

"My goal is to leave the house on my own but I know that will be a long process," he said. Doctors say it may take between three and four years for Uribe to reach his goal.

Uribe said he plans to start a foundation to help overweight people get medical assistance and teach them about healthy eating habits.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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