Success Stories

Bobby’s Story

Before Bariatric SurgeryAfter Bariatric Surgery

As far back as I can remember, my weight has always been up and down. I was never concerned with it until I started to steadily gain weight after I got married and had children. Within two years, I gained 180 pounds. I became hypertensive and pre-diabetic and I no longer had the energy to play with my children; I was embarrassed to go out because I could not fit in regular seats or booths at restaurants, and I had a hard time shopping for clothes that could fit me. I tried a variety of diets, but I always gave up and gained the weight back.

I attribute the rollercoaster ride of gaining/losing weight to the fact that I could not control the amount of food I ate. I knew at this point that I was out of control and in trouble (health wise) if I did not get in control of my weight fast. Therefore, after careful consideration, I decided to research weight loss surgery options. I researched several programs throughout the Rio Grande Valley, Houston, and Dallas, Texas. I finally decided to attend a weight-loss surgery seminar which was hosted by Dr. Ernesto Garza and Dr. Luis Reyes at the McAllen Heart hospital. Dr. Garza and Dr. Reyes provided excellent information regarding weight loss surgery. I learned that the benefits definitely outweighed the risks of weight loss surgery for me. Therefore, I decided to have gastric bypass surgery, which was performed by Dr. Ernesto Garza.

I am currently eight months post-op and my life has completely changed. Dr. Garza armed me with the best weapon to regain control of my life. Gastric bypass surgery has assisted me in making a life style change by allowing me to control what I eat and the amount of food I eat. My experience with Dr. Garza was the best. I found Dr. Garza to be very professional, experienced, and enthusiastic about my personal needs.

The patient care I received at McAllen Heart hospital was superb. The medical staff at McAllen Heart hospital made my short stay a great experience. Today, I am 175 lbs lighter and am no longer dealing with high blood pressure or diabetes. I have learned that I still have to do my part, so I eat well but also rarely crave the bad stuff and workout at least 6 times a week. The best part is I feel great about myself and my body, and by doing this, I know I will be here to take care of my family for a long time to come.

Bobby Rivera


Paula’s Story

Before Bariatric SurgeryAfter Bariatric Surgery

My name is Paula Kilgore, and I am currently 47 years old. I was obese ever since I was a child. I remember Sears being the only department store that carried “chubby” clothes. My mom would take me shopping before school started every year, and I remember crying because the clothing they had back then for plus sizes was not very fashionable for a young girl. As the years went by, I can remember the pediatrician actually putting me on some kind of “diet” pill when I was about 11 or 12 years old, and he said the only soda I could drink was Fresca.

When I was 15 or 16 years old, the family practice doctor tried to tell my mother I needed to be on medication for high blood pressure. My mother refused to do this; she did not think it was possible for me to need this medication. When I was 17 years old, I went to the doctor and he put me on medication for hypertension, and I began to take it as prescribed. He also put me on diet pills – and he was walking a fine line in doing so due to my hypertension.

Needless to say, for my entire life, I was on and off multiple diets and never lost enough weight to make a difference in my health. I even took Redux, the well-known diet pill that caused heart valve damage. Fortunately, it does not appear that I had any permanent damage from that. I was on various medications for my hypertension which was difficult to control. I did not get much exercise because I would get short of breath easily. My back ached, my feet hurt, and of course there was the social stigma that came along with being morbidly obese.

In February of 2004, I had a heart catheterization. I had a “Cardiolite” test that showed areas of possible ischemia in my heart muscle and the only way to confirm this was by a heart catheterization. I had been getting very short of breath and having some chest discomfort. My coronary arteries were clear; however, they were a small caliber and my cardiologist said I had to lose weight because it was putting too big of a demand on my heart. I also had some left ventricular hypertrophy due to my hypertension. For the first time in my known history, my triglycerides were elevated as well, and I had been placed on Glucophage. This was because, now, I had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

I tried losing weight on my own, once again, without success. I would have to say the most successful I had ever been was when I took the Redux and lost down to 200 pounds, but I put my weight back on when it was taken off the market.

I am a nurse and I told my superior that I had to lose weight; she informed me that our hospital was going to start doing weight loss surgery in a few months. I was excited to hear this. I had thought about it briefly in the past, but thought it was out of my reach because my insurance only covered my hospital or a hospital run by the same corporation. The closest facility was about 250 miles away, and I did not think I could travel to get it done and was not even sure my insurance would cover it. Therefore, I always thought the surgery was out of my reach.

On August 16, 2004, I had a laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. I was fortunate to have a very skilled and patient laparoscopic surgeon, Dr. Luis Reyes, as I’d had multiple abdominal surgeries in the past and I form adhesions quite easily. I was weighing 258 pounds right before my surgery, but I had weighed as much as 264 pounds. I was able to get off my medications within three months of surgery and my triglycerides were back to normal within one month.

I lost the majority of my weight in the first ten months. When I got down to a size 12, I thought to myself, “Oh, I will not get any smaller.” Let me tell you how wrong I was. I continued to lose weight and stabilized at about 138 pounds by one-and-a-half years later. I maintained that weight until about four months ago when I lost about another ten pounds. Like I said, it requires a lifestyle change.

It has also changed my career path and I now lead a Bariatric Program for McAllen Heart Hospital. I love educating patients on weight loss surgery so they know they have a choice. I am involved in an American Society of Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) committee on Best Practices for the Integrated Health division.

I took the first national certification exam to become a Certified Bariatric Nurse (CBN) and became certified.

I continue to be a resource for patients who are going through the process to have weight loss surgery as well as post-op patients who have had weight loss surgery. I am very happy to share information with others regarding weight loss surgery as a treatment for obesity.

Paula Kilgore, RN, CBN


April’s Story

Before Bariatric SurgeryAfter Bariatric Surgery

I had struggled with my weight my entire life. I yo-yo’d my way up to 298 pounds and I was so unhappy. As a nurse, I worked long hours. Carrying all that extra weight was murder on my body. My feet and back would scream at me every morning. In March of 2008, I had Gastric Bypass surgery. My goal was to fit into a size 18, which was the smallest I could remember myself being. I went from a size 26/28 to a size 10. Unbelievable! I’ve lost 145 pounds so far and counting.

I had done my homework and was prepared for what lifestyle changes I was going to have to make, but I wasn’t prepared for all of the not-so-obvious benefits of weight loss. My energy and self esteem went through the roof and my feet no longer scream at me. I could run circles around my former self!

My place in the world has changed. What was once impossible is now possible. My only regret is not having this surgery sooner.

April