Surgery Helps Woman Weighing More Than 600 Pounds

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- About a third of Americans are considered obese. Nearly four percent are morbidly obese and face a variety of health issues. A Des Moines woman weighing more than 600 pounds is working to get back her life.

Terry Mahoney feels trapped. She said, "I want to get up and walk."

She continued describing her life saying, "Lonely. Thank God for the computer and Facebook."

The social woman rarely leaves her house, has to walk with a cane and makes all of her clothes. She said, "When you're this big, you can't order them online anymore."

The 53-year-old said she has struggled with the scale most of her life.

"From the time I was young, I put on weight. I put it on, take it off, yo-yo. I've tried every diet," She said.

Recently she reached 680 and was out of breath walking to the bathroom. She said, "I thought, I'm going to die if I don't do something."

She knew she needed to make a change.

"Unless I take off this weight, I'm just going to live this non-existent life. I don't want to do that. I want to get out and live again," she said.

Mahoney chose to lose the weight this time through bariatric surgery by coming to the Iowa Weight Loss Specialists. Iowa Specialty Hospital Director of Bariatric Surgery Dr. Todd Eibes said, "For Terry, we're going to do the sleeve gastrectomy."

Dr. Eibes said the procedure is now the most common bariatric surgery in the United States. "We're basically going to remove 70% of her stomach,” he said.

He continued, “It's going to significantly decrease the hormone levels that are helping control her appetite. There's a hormone made in your stomach called ghrelin and that significantly stimulates your appetite. And, when we remove that portion of your stomach that hormone level will drop and her appetite will basically go away."

Dr. Eibes says the average patient loses 60% of their excess weight. Mahoney is an extreme case, but he's confident she'll see success, shedding 200-300 pounds in the first year. He said, "It's all about she's trying to take care of herself, and she doesn't have a lot of health issues. She can still walk and still do things. And, I think it's kind of exciting to operate at the extremes like this because you can really give them their life back."

A life Mahoney is now excited to live.

"For the first time, I feel like something is going to change, and it's going to be better. I can't wait. Look out, I'm coming," She said.

Mahoney had her surgery at Iowa Specialty Hospital in Belmond earlier this month. She said it went well and feels lighter every day. So far, she's down 22 pounds.

Dr. Eibes says the average patient weighs 280 pounds. Iowa Weight Loss Specialists hosts free educational classes in Belmond and West Des Moines. Click here for the details.