Junkfood Science: Note from Dani

February 12, 2007

Note from Dani

Last week’s articles on bariatric surgeries and what partients have gone through and are living with struck a chord with countless readers and healthcare professionals, many of whom wrote very moving letters of appreciation. Others wrote posts that took my breath away, such as this one and this one. It is heartwarming to know that the information may reach people who most need it and that they may be helped by it.

One email came from Dani Hart and she generously offered for her note to be reprinted here. She speaks from many years of experience.

Hello Sandy,

I wanted to let you know that you wrote valuable information that people considering weight loss surgery (WLS) should be reading.

I had the gastric bypass surgery (RNY/Fobi) in 2000 and had it reversed (“taken down”) 18 months later to save my life. I have heard from thousands of people who have had complications and most have said their surgeons dumped them once they became ill. Almost all have said they never knew the downside to WLS. Some with complications continue to say they would do it all over again.

But those whom I have worked with would never have had the surgery if they had known the complications of this surgery.

I wrote the book, I Want To Live — Gastric Bypass Reversal, because I wanted to tell my story and share information about this life-threatening surgery. I also wanted others to know that they weren’t alone and that there are many of us who were told we would die without this surgery, but who found instead, we would die with it.

For the past five years I have been doing all I can to help people get to a doctor so they can have their reversals in order to save their lives. There are so few doctors who will take another doctor’s patient so it has been most difficult finding doctors to help people and getting people to them in time. Unfortunately many have died from the complications and some have commited suicide because they couldn’t deal with the pain any longer and didn’t know there was any hope or help for them.

Over the years I have given many interviews and have given all the money from my book to those who have needed a little financial help during their reversals. Having complications is very expensive and many have gone bankrupt or don’t seek medical help because a lack of funds. Emotionally this surgery takes a very big toll on the person and their families. I have heard horror stories — one after another — and as long as money is to be made from this surgery, it will continue.

If a person can get a reversal soon enough, they have a better chance of being able to have a normal life with fewer long-term complications. For some, however, the damage is so severe they will forever live with the complications. But at least they have a chance at life again. Once they can absorb nutrients again, many problems will go away or their progression slowed, such as osteoporsis and organ failure.

I have been physically and verbally threatened more times then I can count by telling what can and does go wrong from WLS. I use to be a moderator on the Gone Wrong group. [As mentioned here on February 9th, this is a recommended support group for those having complications. It’s also where people will be welcomed who’ve been ostracized from other bariatric sites when they develop problems and speak of them in an effort to get help or information. See: here.] But the stress from it became too much to take and I had to leave. I still help people who write me when I can. Those who speak out about the dangers are often tossed out of their support groups and have no place to go. This group is a place they can be safe and find true support.

Those I call the "cheerleaders" blame the person for problems that happen to them. Complications aren’t the fault of the patient, it’s the surgeries. Yet these cheerleaders will even encourage others to have the surgery when they are often not healthy themselves.

I wanted to write and let you know that your articles were right on. It is so rare to find another who is doing their best to get out information about WLS — information that has been hidden too long.

Thank You,

Dani Hart

Here are the links to the bariatric articles in this series, in case you missed them:

"Bariatric surgery -- the most life-altering decision you'll ever make"

"Unprecedented campaign to force insurers to cover bariatric procedures"

"When scares become deadly -- weighing the actual risks of dying of obesity"

"Selling an elective surgery"

"Why we never hear, why people don't talk and why people don't want to know..."

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