For Ken Schnur, choosing to have gastric bypass surgery at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital was a life-changing — probably life-saving — decision.
The married father of two from Munhall was an emergency dispatcher. The job’s shift work and long hours sitting behind a desk taking calls had taken its toll.
“I put on a bunch of weight,” he admits.
At 280 pounds, Ken was battling several health issues. Ken's doctor warned him he’d likely die young unless he made some serious life changes.
After having gastric bypass surgery by Anita P. Courcoulas, MD, the 36-year-old has:
- Lost 108 pounds.
- Regained his energy and stamina.
- Found a new job, allowing him to be much more active.
“I couldn’t be happier with the whole experience,” he says. “It was definitely the right decision for me.”
Ken Schnur’s Weight Loss Journey
A former high school athlete, Ken Schnur never had weight issues until he became an emergency dispatcher. He worked mostly 3 to 11 p.m. or 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shifts.
Unfortunately, shift work is hard on the body. Studies have linked it to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
Ken’s job came with added health risks — a high level of stress, sitting for hours, and grabbing takeout food between calls. It was a recipe for disaster, says Ken who struggled with his weight for years.
“I’d gain a bunch of weight, then I’d lose 30 or 40 pounds, gain it back, and add more,” he says. “I was fat and out of shape.”
A Wake-Up Call: Sky-High Blood Pressure and Prediabetes
When he could no longer hike with his wife, Kathaleen, or play with his sons, Ken knew “something had to change.”
His first step toward better health was to make a doctor’s appointment. It wasn’t a complete surprise when he learned that his blood pressure was “through the roof” and he was prediabetic.
“Both my parents are diabetic, so that really worried me,” says Ken.
He was already using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to treat severe sleep apnea due to his weight.
His doctor was blunt, saying: “If you don’t lose weight and make some serious changes, you’re going to die,’” recalls Ken.
That was the wake-up call he needed.
“I had to do something to improve my odds of living a long life,” Ken says.
His wife’s cousin, who had bariatric surgery at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, suggested it to Ken.
Ken attended a bariatric surgery info session. He learned more about the various options — and what to expect before and after each — before deciding to pursue weight loss surgery.
“The staff was great,” says Ken. “They really prepare you well.”
Once qualified for surgery, Ken began the six-month lifestyle program to get ready for the procedure. During that time, he lost 18 pounds by following the pre-surgery diet and learned the importance of a healthy diet and exercise.
A Better Quality of Life
Ken, who had gastric bypass surgery in October 2017, has now lost a total of 108 pounds.
His blood pressure and blood sugar numbers are within normal ranges, and he’s sleeping better.
“It totally improved the quality of my life,” he says.
He also made a career change, so he no longer works shifts, and is back to being active with this family.
“I coached boys’ soccer even when I was heavy,” he says. “Now I can run drills with the kids instead of just standing on the sidelines.”
When he and Kathaleen (who’s always been active) recently hiked the Great Smokey Mountains, Ken was “able to do all her trails.”
And he can now ride the Kangaroo and Pirate Ship at Kennywood with his kids.
“I couldn’t do that before,” he says.
Note: This patient's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.Read more gastric bypass patient stories.