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A Life Changing Weight Loss Experience

For Obesity Patients Mina Horton and Linda Brown, DMC Harper Bariatric Program Was a “Life-Changer”

Mina Harper shares her own life changing weight loss experience below. 

When the doorbell rang at her West Bloomfield Township condominium on April 20, 2008, Wilhelmina Hill (“Mina”) Horton was paralyzed from the waist down and struggling to breathe. Although she didn’t know it at that moment, the highly accomplished social worker and mental health counselor was actually at the point of death.

Struggling with partial respiratory failure and immobilized by her morbid obesity, the then-59-year-old Ms. Horton was also battling diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

For the former Vice President for Clinical Programs at New Center Community Mental Health in Detroit – a Licensed Master of Social Work with more than 30 years of experience in her field – a 20-year struggle with morbid obesity had now become a life-or-death health crisis. At that point,” Ms. Horton recalls, “I was so ill that when some of my family arrived to take me to the hospital, I had to crawl to the door to let them in. That was probably the toughest day of my life, and I think I’m very fortunate that I didn’t die.”

Rushed to a local hospital, Ms. Horton spent ten days in a life-threatening coma and then several months in rehabilitation. She didn’t return home until four months later. Having reached an all-time high weight of 470 pounds before she finally collapsed, Ms. Horton was now forced to use a walker and at one point was taking 17 different medications each day.But then she finally took the step that would begin to restore her health and also “transform” her life.

Deeply shaken by her near-death experience, Ms. Horton was compelled to acknowledge how her health had been undermined by her obesity. “I had been told that I would develop these severe health problems if I remained obese,” she said recently. “But at that point I didn’t know how to listen. I was going from one doctor to the next, but I still hadn’t understood how obesity was destroying my life.”

Referred to Dr. Michael Wood and the DMC Harper University Hospital bariatric medicine program by her family physician, Ms. Horton first lost 140 pounds during a custom-tailored, 15-month nutritional program. The program was managed by a nutritionist on staff at Harper BMI.
“The nutritional plan we developed was part of the pre-surgical program,” she recalled, “and we worked it out right there in Dr. Wood’s office. That made it very easy and convenient, and the Harper bariatric team did an outstanding job of helping me to deal with all aspects of my weight-loss program. After a while I became very interested in understanding how all of these different [obesity-linked] conditions affected my body – and I think my interest was awakened by the effective way in which my nutritionist explained things to me.”

Once her weight was down to about 310 pounds, she became medically eligible to undergo a high-tech bariatric surgical procedure designed to eliminate her morbid obesity.The surgical procedure, known as “minimally invasive, robotic-assisted Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass,” involved two basic steps. After creating a small food pouch (about the size of a medicine cup) by restricting access to the patient’s stomach, Dr. Wood and his team shortened her bowel surgically so that it would absorb fewer nutrients.

Ms. Horton successfully underwent the procedure on August 17, 2010. “I was a little frightened at first, but Dr. Wood took me through it step by step,” she recalled. “He has a very gentle demeanor, very fatherly and supportive, and he also has a great sense of humor. What helped me the most was that I came to trust Dr. Wood – and I think that trust was the key to my successful treatment.”

After the two-and-a-half-hour procedure, Ms. Horton spent five days at Harper University Hospital and then returned to her condo in West Bloomfield. During the next 18 months, she continued to lose weight and today tips the scales at only 163 pounds. As a result, she is no longer diabetic and no longer requires daily insulin shots. Once unable to walk without a walker or cane, she now moves about freely without either.

Last summer, she organized a volunteer beautification project at her church, Covenant Baptist of West Bloomfield, and became so excited about gardening that she started planting lilies in her own yard. “I feel as if I’ve been given the gift of life, and now I want to give back,” she said, while enthusiastically describing her new life as Program Manager at Federation of Youth Services, a residential facility for troubled adolescent girls near Belle Isle in Detroit. There she frequently works with the residents and their families to help them learn “better nutrition values.”

Thanks to the bariatric program at Harper Hospital, I’ve had a complete life change,” she says. “Food is not the center of my life anymore, and I now realize that my health is more important.” Reflecting on her new life as a volunteer, Ms. Horton described a recent moment in which one of her neighbors stopped her in her parking garage and asked her: “What happened to that heavyset lady who used to live in your condo?” I told her – that was me! But it isn’t me, anymore. When I look back, I feel like I was walking in the wilderness for a long, long time.

For me, this has been a spiritual journey, as well as a journey through the highly effective weight-loss program at Harper Hospital. Today I have a burning desire to share what I’ve learned on my journey, and to help others who have had or are considering bariatric surgery. I’ve had a body-change, and it’s a wonderful thing when you realize that you don’t have to wear all those black clothes anymore!”

Another Story of Life Changing Weight Loss

Another recent patient who experienced significant weight loss while being treated at the Harper Bariatric Medicine Institute is 67-year-old Linda Brown, a Dearborn resident who has taught in the Detroit public school system for 28 years. Ms. Brown, who owns two different teaching-related master’s degrees, first brought her daughter Simone to Harper for treatment in 2009. Simone lost more than 130 pounds after undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Linda Brown then underwent the Lap-Band procedure herself in 2010, as therapy for her own obesity.

For both of us, the results were just amazing,” said Ms. Brown. “I’m Simone’s mother and I can hardly believe her metamorphosis. It’s so wonderful – she’s a flower now!” Ms. Brown also noted that her own Lap-Band procedure has produced outstanding results. “Dr. Wood takes a no-nonsense approach with his patients,” she said recently, “but he also has a light-hearted sense of humor. He has a fatherly effect on you, and when he looks at you, his eyes speak volumes.” My daughter and I now call ourselves ‘Woodies’ – like many of his other patients – and we are very grateful for the way he’s helped us both to transform our lives for the better.”

To read more about the life changing weight loss experience of other weight loss surgery patients, please click here.

If you would like to schedule a consultation to begin your own journey toward weight loss contact us at 1.877.362.9898.

About your new self at Detroit Center in Michigan

Detroit Medical Center is the premier provider of weight loss surgery in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region. DMC operates offices in the Madison Heights and Southfield areas of Detroit, Michigan, and serves other areas including Ypsilanti, Saginaw, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Livonia, Monroe, Lansing, Dearborn, Novi and Troy. Your New Self also serves Canadian bariatric patients as a preferred provider for the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Your New Self at Detroit Medical Center boasts four expert bariatric surgeons who specialize in LAP-BAND®, REALIZE® Band, Sleeve Gastrectomy, and Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass bariatric surgeries.

Patients interested in weight loss surgery should sign up for a free informational seminar to learn more about their surgical options and get started today.