Losing weight could be a matter of life and death

March 26, 2014

Consider 42-year-old Gena Downey of Burbank, who used to weigh 230 pounds. At that weight, she had diabetes, serious sleep apnea and needed medication to protect her heart. But after shedding more than 100 pounds following bariatric weight-loss surgery performed at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, those health issues are a thing of the past.

For Helen Kanataryan of Van Nuys, weighing 341 pounds was preventing her from achieving her dream of being a mother. She’d tried dieting, exercising and weight-loss pills, but it took bariatric surgery to help her reach a healthy weight—and give birth to her first child.

"I tried to get pregnant for five years," says the 28-year-old Kanataryan. "I finally did, and it’s all because of the surgery."

Mark Farnsworth, a 48-year-old from Newhall, is another of the many success stories to come out of Providence Saint Joseph’s bariatric program. He lost more than 200 pounds and, last year, walked 29 miles in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, something he never would have dreamed of in the days when his weight exceeded 450 pounds.