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Patient Weight Loss Stories

Susan Bassler: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Susan Bassler had always been tall and strong, but when she reached 300 pounds it was a tipping point and led to her making a choice that would help her build a life she never imagined.

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Rita Booth: Gastric Bypass Surgery

When Rita Booth's weight began affecting her work and health, she started researching bariatric surgery. She found UPMC and had gastric bypass surgery. Since then, she has donated over 150 pounds of dog food — for every pound she's lost — to her local humane society.

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Karen Bright: Lifestyle Changes

In 2021, Karen says, she got lazy, stopped eating right, and got quite heavy, reaching her maximum weight of 230. In her job she spends her days advising patients on how to modify their risk factors prior to surgery – like obesity – to improve surgical outcomes. She finally decided to listen to her own advice.

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Zoey Bright: Lifestyle Changes

After Zoey Bright’s weight started affecting her performance as a musical theater major and grief at her grandmother’s death led her to emotional eating, Zoey decided to make a change.

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Dann Brown: Gastric Bypass Surgery

At age 55, Dann was taking more than 20 pills a day to manage high cholesterol, high blood sugar, depression, sleep apnea, and joint pain. But it wasn’t until his doctor recommended adding insulin that he decided to do something drastic about his weight. He lost 40 pounds before his gastric sleeve surgery. Since then, he’s lost another 57 pounds and eliminated all his medicines.

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Robert Dunkerley: Gastric Bypass Surgery

At 360 pounds, Robert Dunkerley's weight was affecting his health. After spending 40 days in a coma, and almost a year in the hospital, Robert made a choice that would change his life. He underwent gastric bypass surgery and, just six months later, ran a 5K race.

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Adam Ferris: Gastric Bypass Surgery

In high school, Adam Ferris played football until a serious leg injury ended his playing career and upended his life. Unable to walk unassisted for 6 months, Adam says that’s when the serious weight gain started. By age 24, he weighed 440 pounds. Once he decided that something had to change, Adam underwent gastric bypass surgery.

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Jacy Fricke: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Jacy Fricke will never forget the day she made the life-changing decision to have bariatric surgery. “I literally woke up that morning and said to myself, ‘I just can’t continue like this,’” she says.

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Wendy Gibson: Diet Weight Loss

Wendy Gibson is a driven woman, focused on achieving a singular goal: her good health. With guidance and support from the UPMC Comprehensive Weight Loss Program, she has changed her lifestyle and dropped nearly 100 pounds. That’s in addition to the 100 pounds she previously lost with the help of a nutritionist — for a total weight loss of almost 200 pounds.

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Judy Grimm: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

At age 56, Judy Grimm’s health was spiraling out of control. Her weight had started piling on along with increasing medical issues. When her doctor told her she was becoming pre-diabetic and probably wouldn’t live to see her grandchildren get married, she decided to take action. After undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, she lost 95 pounds, dropped from a size 24 to a 12, and eliminated her medications and CPAP machine.

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Kevin Gutknecht: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Kevin Gutknecht was already seriously overweight when his mother died suddenly. He soon started having medical problems. Diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, Kevin was taking a handful of pills every day. After losing 52 pounds, Kevin had gastric sleeve surgery at UPMC Hamot. Now 163 pounds, he recently competed in his first Brazilian jiu jitsu tournament.

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Ricarda Lavelle: Gastric Bypass Surgery

When Ricarda's weight began to affect her health and overall quality of life, her primary care physician suggested that she consider bariatric surgery. Since her gastric bypass surgery, Ricarda breathes easier, has more energy, and has even been able to better manage her diabetes with a decreased insulin dosage.

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Tonya Lightcap: Gastric Bypass Surgery

Tonya Lightcap was 38 years old when she made a life-changing decision. The mother of two young boys was 100 pounds overweight and facing increasing health issues. Constantly tired and out of breath, she knew something had to change. Since undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, she has lost 90 pounds, dropped from a size 18 to a 6, and seen her blood pressure dip to a healthy 90/60.

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Karen Maynard: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

As a high school and college athlete, Karen Maynard could eat with reckless abandon. But when she stopped playing sports, her daily intake of 5,000-plus calories continued. As her weight crept up she yo-yo dieted, losing 25 to 50 pounds at a clip — then gaining it all back and more. It wasn’t until her younger sister had a heart attack at age 37 that Karen got serious about weight loss. Ultimately, she opted to have bariatric surgery. Today, she’s an avid runner getting ready for her first marathon.

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Carol Mineo: Gastric Bypass Surgery

After a foot surgery left her unable to exercise, Carol Mineo tried several commercial diet programs to lose weight without long term success. After hearing the success stories of colleagues who had undergone the procedure and learning about the many health benefits, Carol scheduled her own gastric bypass surgery. Today, she has more energy, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and feels like she is back in her twenties.

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Vickie and Linda Newark: Gastric Bypass Surgery

Just two years after Vickie Newark had her gastric bypass surgery, her wife, Linda underwent her own gastric bypass procedure. Both had struggled with unhealthy relationships to food for a long time. Luckily, with the expertise of UPMC, the pair is now living healthily at their goal weights.

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Lynn Oslosky: Gastric Bypass Surgery

Lynn Oslosky was petite most of her life until she gave birth and had a hysterectomy. Unable to lose the 75 pounds she gained, she was more concerned with her rising blood pressure and blood sugar. Gastric bypass surgery helped Lynn lose the extra weight and find a new way to make healthy choices.

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Rich Petarca: Gastric Bypass Surgery

Rich Petarca felt that he was fighting a losing battle with obesity. His weight tended to go through “seesaw” patterns, reaching 427 pounds at one point. After doing some research, he decided to have gastric bypass surgery, losing 232 pounds and finally winning his weight loss battle.

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Ed Pikna: Gastric Bypass Surgery

At age 49, Ed Pikna weighed 476 pounds. Once a three-sport athlete and outdoorsman, he couldn’t walk to the mailbox without “huffing and puffing.” He had a leg infection that wouldn’t heal and everything hurt. Realizing that “enough was enough,” Ed decided to have gastric bypass surgery. He lost 100 pounds prior to surgery and another 120 following the procedure.

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Amber Salisbury: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Amber Salisbury had an important reason for undergoing gastric sleeve surgery for weight loss in August 2021: an embryo in storage. "I knew I needed to be as healthy as possible for this baby," she says.

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Ken Schnur: Gastric Bypass Surgery

For Ken Schnur, a married father of two from Munhall, choosing to have gastric bypass surgery at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital was a life-changing — probably life-saving — decision. His job as an emergency dispatcher, which involved shift work and long hours sitting behind a desk taking calls, had taken its toll.

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Nicole Seal: Gastric Bypass Surgery

Weight was never a big deal to Nicole Seal, a Monongahela native. At 5 feet, 7 inches, she was accustomed to the scale hovering between 215 and 230 pounds. Then she took a job in a personal care home working odd hours and night shifts. The weight started piling on.

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Melissa Silvis: Gastric Bypass Surgery

At 513 pounds, Melissa Silvis tried to avoid interaction with people, but after watching a friend's success with gastric bypass surgery, she became motivated to find out about surgical weight loss options. Within a year after her surgery, Melissa lost nearly 230 pounds.

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Jake Smith: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

As a child, Jake Smith was always the biggest kid in class. In grade school he had to kneel for soccer photos to match his teammates in height. Despite his husky build, he was active throughout high school. By senior year he no longer was the tallest, but he was the heaviest as his weight edged up to 280 pounds.

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Lindsay Smith: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Lindsay Smith was surrounded by bad eating habits and has dealt with flunctuating weight as a child. At 23 years-old and weighing around 268 pounds, Lindsay was borderline diabetic and suffered numerous knee dislocations. She decided to undergo gastric sleeve surgery and has lost over 100 pounds and has since maintained her weight at about 145 pounds.

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Debbie Stine: Weight Loss

Debbie Stine travels around the world as a consultant and policy analyst. But with increasing health issues and her weight topping 300 pounds, the going got tougher and tougher. A year after turning to the UPMC Comprehensive Weight Loss program for help, she’s lost nearly 100 pounds and is enjoying a healthier, more active life.

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Richard and Diane Suriano: Gastric Bypass Surgery

Diane Suriano was desperate and felt that bariatric surgery was her only option. She underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost 135 pounds. Inspired by her dramatic turnaround, Diane's husband Richard decided to have the same procedure. He's lost 100 pounds and can fit into jeans that have been hanging in his closet for 20 years.

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Deanna Ulrich: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

At the age of 47, Deanna Ulrich was tired and lacked energy. Putting on weight ever since she had kids, she knew it was time for a big change. Since undergoing a gastric sleeve procedure at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital Minimally Invasive Bariatric and General Surgery Program, Deanna has lost 100 pounds and run the Pittsburgh Marathon.

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Trevice Washington: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

As Trevice Washington got older, she noticed how easy it was to put on weight. After reaching almost 400 pounds and experiencing joint pain, Trevice turned to UPMC for gastric sleeve surgery and has lost 168 pounds.

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Debbie Weismiller: Gastric Sleeve Surgery

As a cardiac nurse, Debbie Weismiller instantly knew something was wrong when she saw her EKG. With her family history of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke — plus a diagnosis of an enlarged heart, soaring blood pressure and borderline diabetes — she desperately needed to lose weight. She underwent gastric sleeve surgery and lost 100 pounds over the next year.

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