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Dangers of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Jan 3, 2004 | Capital News 9
Effects of gastric bypass surgery

It Might Kill Her. But It Almost Did.

When Debbie Jones decided to have gastric bypass surgery, the last thing she thought was that it might kill her. But it almost did.

Jones said, "I was in ICU for 45 days. During those 45 days I was on a ventilator for 33 days."

Duane Jones, Debbie's husband said, "There were times when I walked into that room and she was just gasping for breath. And there were times when I walked into the room and she was under an ice blanket because her fever had gone to 104. When I walked in, she had huge chest tubes in her side."

With gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is stapled to make it smaller so you can't eat as much. When Debbie's stomach was stapled, the contents of her stomach leaked, so she needed two more surgeries. And then she developed a chest infection, pneumonia, a blood infection, and a heart arrhythmia.

Doctors often tell patients that the death rate from gastric bypass surgery is just 1 out of 500 patients. But a new study from the University of Washington says more recent data shows actually 1 out of 50 patients will die in the month following surgery from complications.

As consumer demand for gastric bypass has skyrocketed, more and more inexperienced surgeons are performing it.

If The Surgeon Is Less Experienced.

If the surgeon is less experienced, the likelihood of the patient dying within the first 30 days of the surgery is somewhere on the order of four and a half times the risk compared to a surgeon who is more experienced.

Debbie Jones said she had the surgery because she feared she would die soon anyway. At 360 pounds she diabetes, high blood pressure, and had trouble walking.

She said, "I remember going to the grocery store and would start in the produce section and before I could get to the other side, to frozen foods, I was exhausted."

Now, at 215 pounds, she can march alongside her daughter in her band, and she's off her diabetes medication and her blood pressure is under control. So, she said despite nearly dying, she's glad she had the surgery.

"It's the worst because of the complications that I had, and the fact that my family suffered through those complications. And it's the best because I have my health. And I am here with my family. I have a terrific family, and I almost lost them," she said.

Debbie knows this procedure can be a life saver but that it can also take your life. She simply hopes nobody goes into this surgery with their eyes shut.

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