Your Healthy Family

Aug 7, 2012 1:06 PM by Lacey Steele

Your Healthy Family: Weight Loss and Organ Transplants

An overweight man was told he couldn't get a kidney transplant because he tipped the scales at 300 pounds.

He had to lose weight to save his life.

Here's more in today's Your Healthy Family.

Eventually, doctors in Cincinnati came up with a radical solution.

They performed weight loss surgery first.

Larry Burton and Merry Church may be friends, but they consider each other family.

They also found out they were a perfect match.

"The Lord had a lot to do with it," said Larry, the kidney recipient.

"When I met Larry and found out about his health issues over time he mentioned that he was needing a donor and I said well I would be willing to do that," said Merry, the donor.

However, getting the transplant wasn't as easy.

Larry topped 300 pounds, and doctors said he was too overweight.

"Being obese has a significant increase risk of cardiovascular death," said Dr. Steve Woodle, Director of Transplantation. "Renal failure has an even greater risk of cardiovascular death, and our thoughts were lets take a disease management approach to this."

Before one doctor could operate, a second doctor had to perform laproscopic sleeve gastrectomy.

"This part of the stomach is removed, and what they're left with is this," said Dr. Tayyab Diwan, a transplant surgeon. "This is the staple line, and what they're left with is a little tube of stomach, which is like a sleeve."

Within four months, Larry dropped almost 100 pounds.

He's now part of a new weight loss transplant effort at University Hospital.

"As far as kidney transplant programs in the United States, we're the only one I know of now that has a dedicated global approach, programmatic approach, to this," said Dr. Woodle.

As for Larry, this new approach gave him a new life.

"You have to fight all of that, and hopefully they'll have somebody like I've got that loves me and took care of me," said Larry.

A sleeve gastrectomy is usually performed when a gastric bypass is too risky.

The procedure is not reversible.

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