YOUR HEALTH: A woman’s surgery goes very, very wrong

WACO, Texas – Life is good for 32-year old Isabel Torres and her family but complications from bariatric surgery in Mexico nearly killed her.

"Had this not worked, I don't know where I'd be."

Isabel is here because of the innovative work of Dr. Steven Leeds.

Three and a half years ago, Isabel weighed 365 pounds.    She got bariatric surgery to remove part of her stomach in Mexico to save money, but there were complications, infections, and a leak that couldn't be fixed.

Several surgeries failed, she couldn't eat, and she was depressed.

More than 200,000 Americans a year experience weight loss through bariatric surgery and tens of thousands go to Mexico to get it done.

"Reading the chart, I knew we only had one option to go, we had to go to surgery," explained Dr. Leeds, gastrointestinal surgeon at Baylor University Medical Center.   "And this stomach that had been tortured now for over a couple of years needed to come out."

In a procedure he had done many times before for cancer patients, Dr. Leeds removed the entire stomach and attached the small bowel directly to the esophagus.

"We take the stomach out and we leave this bowel, and this is where the small bowel comes up to attach it to the esophagus," he said.

Since most of digestion actually takes place in the small intestine, a person can live without a stomach.

"Following surgery and after everything I did to her, she is living probably the most normal life she could possibly have," said Dr. Leeds.

Isabel is down to about 190 pounds and she plans to start working out.   She says she regrets her decision to go to Mexico for surgery but is thankful Dr. Leeds was able to get her system back on track.

COMPLICATIONS:   As with any major surgery, gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries pose potential health risks, both in the short term and long term.   Risks associated with the surgical procedure can include: excessive bleeding, infection, adverse reactions to anesthesia, blood clots, lung or breathing problems, or leaks in your gastrointestinal system.   Longer term risks and complications of weight-loss surgery vary depending on the type of surgery.   They can include: bowel obstruction, dumping syndrome, causing diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, gallstones, hernias, low blood sugar, malnutrition, stomach perforation, ulcers, and rarely but sometimes death. (Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bariatric-surgery/about/pac-203942580)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.