Rhonda didn't have problems with her weight until after the delivery of her third child in 1979. "No matter what I did, my weight went up and up every year," she says. "I was on a constant diet, and as the years passed, I grew bigger and bigger. Eventually, I was sleeping with a CPAP machine and developed arthritis in both knees."

Meeting the Physician: Ricardo Bonnor, MD

She'd been under the care of a gastroenterologist for gastroesophageal acid reflux disease since 1978, and had had a previous surgery for hiatal hernia, an abnormality in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and up into the chest. When her acid reflux worsened, her gastroenterologist discovered that the hernia repair had slipped and referred Rhonda to Ricardo Bonnor, MD, who specializes in laparoscopic gastric surgery and is director of bariatric surgery at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital.

During her preoperative evaluation, Rhonda asked Dr. Bonnor about adjustable gastric banding for weight loss. "He told me I might not be a candidate because it would involve the area where the hernia was. Instead, he suggested I consider a gastric bypass."

After thorough testing, Dr. Bonnor performed her hernia repair and gastric bypass surgery on September 15, 2009. "When he went in to do the surgery, he discovered that the hernia was so large it had pushed my stomach into my chest cavity, deflated the lower lobes of my lungs and twisted my esophagus, which was why I was having so many digestive problems," she says.

I've learned to drink water, take my vitamins every day and eat healthy food. Now, I'm just soaking up all the compliments about how great I look.

After Gastric Bypass Surgery

By May 2010, seven months after the surgery, she achieved a major victory and her weight had dropped from a preoperative high of 251 to between 180 and 185; and she's still losing. Asthma, which she's had all her life, no longer plagues her. Her knees are improving, she no longer sleeps with the CPAP machine, and she has not had acid reflux since the surgery. Every month she cleans out her closet and gives her clothes to friends.

"I've learned to drink water, take my vitamins every day and eat healthy food," she says. "Now, I'm just soaking up all the compliments about how great I look."

"I'd Have the Surgery Again"

"I'd have the surgery again in a heartbeat," she adds. "The acid reflux was debilitating. That and the asthma were controlling my life. With my stomach pressing down on my lungs, I was headed for real trouble. I believe the hernia repair saved my life, and the gastric bypass has definitely improved the quality of my life. I have tons more energy. I feel great, I'm healthy and I'm loving the attention I get from the weight loss."

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