Student loses 175 lbs. in 14 months after gastric-sleeve surgery

Elizabeth Whitt and Don McNay

Elizabeth Whitt, an Eastern Kentucky University communications major from Richmond, Ky., decided to have gastric sleeve weight loss surgery when she was 19, and now, 14 months later, she has lost 175 pounds, Don McNay writes for The Huffington Post. McNay had the same surgery on Dec. 1 last year and has lost 70 pounds since then. He is writing a book called Project 199: My Business Plan to Lose 175 Pounds because he wants to drop from his original weight of 377 pounds to 199.

While McNay had the surgery at age 55 as a last chance to avoid an early death, Elizabeth had the surgery in college, when most people are not thinking about death. Dr. Derek Weiss at Bluegrass Bariatric in Lexington, Ky., operated on both of them. Weiss said that “doing weight loss surgery on a teenager had been rare before the gastric sleeve became more common as the risk of complications is lower than the other surgeries,” McNay writes. Weiss said that “LSG is a tool. It limits the amount you can eat very successfully. But I think all LSG patients who succeed can take most of the credit themselves; they chose what to eat (and drink) and how much to exercise.”

Whitt before (above) and after (below) with her health team

McNay talked with Whitt because although he had interviewed many experts already, he wanted to hear from someone who had been through the surgery. Whitt said the surgery has allowed her to be much more energetic and active. McNay asked Whitt how she was dealing with the sudden surge of attention from people who are drawn to success. She said she doesn’t pay attention to men who express interest in her now but didn’t talk to her when she was overweight. Whitt also noted that her parents did not support her having surgery until she presented them with research showing the benefits.

Michael and Debi Benson, the president and first spouse at EKU, said Whitt babysits their three children. President Benson said, “Debi and I are very grateful for Elizabeth and have marveled at her physical transformation. This change has allowed her inner beauty, which has always been radiant and contagious, to shine through even more.”

“It took all of my forcus and courage to have the surgery at age 55,” McNay writes. “There is no way I would have undertaken it at age 19. . . . When I weigh in at 199 pounds and hit the same 175 weight loss number that Elizabeth hit, I will say one thing for certain: she has been my inspiration. And my hero.” (Read more)

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