Young weight-loss patients to celebrate, share experiences

11 teenagers have had lap band surgery at Driscoll Children’s Hospital

CORPUS CHRISTI – Through the highly successful bariatrics program at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, eleven teenagers have received lap band surgery to help overcome obesity. To celebrate the success of the program and the positive changes it has brought to the patients’ lives, a masquerade-themed party will be held for them in Driscoll’s auditorium on Sunday, Oct. 24.

“All of the patients keep asking about the other ones,” said Colleen Carrell, bariatrics program coordinator. “All of the kids having surgery want to know what number they are, how many cases have been done and how the others are doing.”

Sunday’s party will include entertainment by “Dr. Freeze,” music, dancing, games, photos, food and lots of door prizes, Carrell said. The occasion will also be used to announce the start of the much-awaited support group for the bariatric patients and their families.

“Nothing helps motivate others like successful, enthusiastic peers,” Carrell said.

About 82 patients are on the waiting list to have the surgery performed, Carrell said. Lap band surgery helps a patient lose and control weight by the attachment of an adjustable band around the top of the stomach that decreases sensations of hunger. Driscoll launched its lap band program in August 2009. The first patient, 19-year-old Jennifer Garcia of Portland, was the first patient to receive lap band surgery in a Texas pediatric hospital.

About 18 doctors and experts contribute their expertise to each lap band operation. Pre-operation preparation includes X-rays, laboratory tests, a six-month dietary program and consultation with a psychologist. A post-operation regimen of regular exercise and healthy eating must be followed.

“This isn’t a cosmetic surgery,” said Mohammad Emran, M.D., the surgeon who leads the team performing the procedure. “It is providing the patient with an effective tool to help control their weight and eliminate their associated health problems.”

Significant health problems such as type II diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, hyperlipidemia and hyperinsulinemia can be completely or significantly resolved with weight loss, Dr. Emran said.

To be considered for lap band surgery, candidates must be at least 14 years old and have exhausted other methods of losing weight, Carrell said. She adds that lap band surgery is not the only solution to obesity.

“The solution to obesity is education, lifestyle changes and exercise,” Carrell said. “No bariatric procedures alone will eliminate someone’s obese condition entirely without lifestyle changes.

“Some people have the opinion that it’s all the parents’ fault and they just need to stop feeding the child. Although that is true in some circumstances, many of the adolescents have medical factors that, despite their best efforts with diet and exercise, make them continue to gain weight.”

What: Celebration for Driscoll lap band recipients
When: 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24
Where: Driscoll Children’s Hospital auditorium, 3533 S. Alameda St.