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Some Patients Too Obese For Transplant Surgery

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CBS DFW (con't)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A growing number of patients are too obese to become candidates for life saving transplants. For them, desperate times call for drastic measures and a surgery that helps them take off the excess weight quickly but safely.

Kyle Spencer didn’t always struggle with his weight.

“Actually when I was younger, I never really battled weight,” he said.

Looking back at a picture of himself at age eight, he appears to have been at a normal weight. Then, he became a teenager.

“Yeah. 14, 15, 16. Yeah,” he said.

By 18, he was obese, weighing 240 to 250 pounds.

By age 20, his kidneys he was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Failure. His kidneys didn’t work anymore.

It’s a condition his mother and grandmother suffered from. Kyle’s been on dialysis.

“I do that three times a week, in the morning,” he said.

Kyle, who’s 27 now, knows he needs to lose weight. So far, diets haven’t worked.

“I was successful with it for a couple of months But it wasn’t long lasting,” Kyle said.

He said he’d lose 40 to 50 pounds and then gain it back.

Now, he says, his only hope for a better life is a kidney transplant.

His chances increase if he loses the excess weight.

According to the research journal, Science Daily, chances for patients on the waiting list for kidney transplants who were severely obese were 27% less likely. It was 44% less likely for patients who were morbidly obese.

“What we’d like to see is Kyle lose 80 to 100 pounds. And, we think we can do that in the next 8 to 12 months,” Dr. Chris Bell said.

Dr. Bell is a surgeon at Medical City Dallas Hospital. He says the best surgery for transplant candidates is a “Sleeve Gastrectomy.”

“This is an operation that removes a portion of the stomach and it allows patients to lose weight,” Dr. Bell said.

Dr. Bell said other operations, like the lap band surgery require periodic adjustments of the band.

Once a portion of Kyle’s stomach is removed, it will be closed with staples which aren’t likely to trigger an anti-rejection response once he receives a transplant.

The Sleeve Gastrectomy is done laparoscopically which means small incisions for a camera and surgical instrument. It will help Kyle get back on his feet in one to two weeks.

The surgery is permanent.

“It is not reversible. So, once it is done. It is done,” Dr. Bell said.

Dr. Bell will perform Kyle’s operation on March 30th.

Kyle said, “This kind of surgery opens the door for me to get back to a life where I’m not chained to a machine.”

He knows the surgery isn’t for everyone.

“I really think this is something that going to work for me,” he said.

Kyle also knows diet and exercise will come back into the picture for him.

He says the surgery gives him the best chance “now” for a longer more fulfilling life.

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