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Learn how bariatric surgery changed the lives of these UPMC patients. Read about our patients' gastric bypass and lap band stories.
Note: These patients' treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.
At age 56, Judy Grimm’s health was spiraling out of control. Her weight, which had seesawed up and down for years, had started piling on along with increasing medical issues: high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and rising blood sugar levels.
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 in December 2014, she lost 95 pounds, dropped from a size 24 to a 12, and eliminated her medications and CPAP machine. “It changed my life,” says Judy.
Kevin Gutknecht was in his 20s, stood 5’6”, and already was seriously overweight when his mother died suddenly at age 52. He soon started having medical problems. Diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, Kevin was taking a handful of pills every day. “I just decided that I didn’t want to live this way,” he explains.
After losing 52 pounds, Kevin had gastric sleeve surgery at UPMC Hamot in September 2015. Now 163 pounds, he recently competed in his first Brazilian jiu jitsu tournament. “I tried doing jiu jitsu years ago, but my gut was too big. Now I can do everything.”
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 — his knees, ankles, and back.
Realizing that “enough was enough,” Ed decided to have gastric bypass surgery in 2015. He lost 100 pounds prior to surgery and another 120 following the procedure. “I’m a new man,” says the high school special education teacher and track coach.
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.
In February 2015 at age 58, she underwent gastric sleeve surgery. Over the next year, she lost 100 pounds, went from wearing size 3X to a large, and wore a dress for the first time in nearly 20 years. “I gained my life back,” says Debbie.
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.
The college communication professor lost 40 pounds before his gastric sleeve surgery in July 2015. Since then, he’s lost another 57 pounds and eliminated all his medicines. “Diabetes isn’t something I have to worry about now,” says Dann.
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.
After Adam recovered from the injury, the additional weight made day-to-day activities such as walking and shoveling snow more difficult. Once he decided that something had to change, Adam underwent gastric bypass surgery.
In 2006, Sandra weighed 380 pounds. She had difficulty climbing stairs and performing household improvements. She was on medication for high blood pressure and asthma and had to use a machine to help her breathe at night because of sleep apnea.
Sandra realized that if she didn't try to lose the weight, she could end up dead. She knew that she needed to make a change, so she decided to learn more about having 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, and also found out that she had another exciting change not even related to her bariatric surgery.
Diane Suriano was desperate and felt that bariatric surgery was her only option. She underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2011. Since then, she's 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.
For years, Sister Mary Catherine Stana would lose large amounts of weight, but regain it through emotional eating. As a diabetic, she was injecting herself with insulin three times a day.
Two years after having gastric bypass surgery, she has lost 140 pounds and no longer needs insulin.
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.
When Rita Booth's weight began affecting her work and health, she started researching bariatric surgery. She found UPMC's George Eid, MD, 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 in Dr. Eid’s name.
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.
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.
Lori Inserra was mindful of the many health challenges brought on by excess weight. Her father died of a heart attack at age 49.
So, when her doctor told her she was a good candidate for gastric bypass surgery, Lori turned to UPMC. Now, 136 pounds lighter, she's found a new outlook on life.
To Darryl Granata, losing weight was more than wanting to look good; it was a matter of life or death.
When his doctor told him he'd be dead in five years if he didn’t lose weight, Darryl found a life-changing solution: gastric bypass surgery. Now he feels younger and more energetic.
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.
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.
With 5 grandchildren, Mary Jo had plenty of excitement in her life. However, she found that she had problems keeping up with them after she became seriously overweight. Health problems developed as well, so she decided to make a change.
She had tried different diets and weight loss approaches, but none gave her the outcome she wanted. Then she considered lap band surgery...
At 268 pounds, Ashley Walker began her weight loss journey by attending bariatric presurgical lifestyle classes and lost 20 pounds.
After lap band surgery, she dropped close to 50 pounds more. Dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, Ashley says bariatric surgery has helped her become someone she never thought she could be.
For 10 years, Crystal Brown struggled with losing weight. She had low energy and didn't like what she saw in the mirror.
Lap band surgery, along with her dedication and discipline, has given Crystal the energy to play with her son and a new body that she likes seeing in the mirror.
Eating less and exercising more did not equal sustained weight loss for DeAnna Brooks. With the encouragement of her primary care doctor, she decided to have lap band surgery.
Since then, she's lost 85 pounds, her health has improved, and she's completed physically intensive training to become a yoga teacher.
Veronica King's weight and low self-esteem had her avoiding scales, mirrors, and cameras most of her life. At 270 pounds, she had difficulty walking and keeping up with her kids.
Since undergoing lap band surgery, she has lost 150 pounds and gained confidence.
Jason Doptis struggled with his weight ever since high school. He tried every diet and exercise program, to no avail.
After researching weight loss surgery options, he decided to have lap band surgery. Now, 112 pounds lighter, Jason feels healthier and more confident.
Nina Wilson's unhealthy eating habits began in childhood. After years of "quick fixes," and watching her parents develop obesity-related health issues, Nina made a life-long commitment to her health.
Since having lap band surgery in 2008, she has kept off the 100 pounds she lost. Her motto? “Faith + Action = Results.”