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Mother-Daughter Team Have Bariatric Surgery at Lourdes on Same Day Last Year

Mom says good health and enjoying family is the best Mother’s Day gift of all

CAMDEN, NJ—After struggling with their weight for years, 45-year-old Rebecca Liber and her 22-year-old daughter Allison, both of Salem County, made a deal. They would each have bariatric surgery, on the same day, one right after another, and they would support each other through the recovery process.

One year after their May 4, 2017 bariatric surgery at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, Rebecca says she thinks of the experience as the perfect annual Mother’s Day gift—the gift of health—and thanks Allison for encouraging her to do it.

“It was Allie’s idea and while I knew we would do it together, I was still scared,” said Rebecca, mother of three girls, including her youngest, Allie. “But Allie kept reminding me of how I always said I couldn’t wait for grandchildren. I knew that if my health hadn’t improved, I might not get that chance.”

“Many people are afraid of the surgery itself, but I tell potential patients, what is more worrisome is poor health continuing as-is,” said Lourdes bariatric surgeon Dr. Harish Kakkilaya, who performed Rebecca and Allie’s surgeries. “People who are overweight are at-risk for diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, cancer and many other health conditions.”

Both Rebecca and Allie had the gastric sleeve surgery. In this minimally invasive procedure, small incisions are made on the abdomen and a laparoscope—an instrument with a small camera that sends pictures to a monitor—is then inserted. With a few more small incisions, surgeons remove about three-fourths of the stomach using a stapling device.

Rebecca stands 5’3” and at her heaviest was 220 pounds. She avoided mirrors and looking at photos of herself. Before losing 75 pounds, she had severe sleep apnea which required a nightly breathing mask. She lacked energy and was out of breath walking short distances. And what Rebecca said was worse, was that as an ER nurse, she often told patients about the importance of keeping a healthy weight but didn’t practice what she preached.

“Bariatric surgery helped me in so many ways,” said Rebecca. “Within weeks, I was losing weight, no longer snored, and my sleep apnea was gone. I felt great. I was able to actually use some of the ideas I had on my Pinterest board called “My New Life.” They included clothing styles that I wouldn’t have tried before.

“The best was having my daughter with me through it all. It was such a special experience. She knew how I was feeling, emotionally and physically. And I knew how she was feeling, so I could support her. We shared tips and ideas. We were each other’s biggest cheerleaders.”

Allie, who was first to have surgery, stayed at her parents’ home after being discharged from the hospital. It helped not only with supporting her mom, but also with having help for her own needs.

Allie said the whole experience gave them a unique bond. At 5’7”, she weighed 280 pounds at her heaviest before surgery. She says she now feels amazing after a 115-pound weight loss. “Surgery helped me grow as a person. I was heavy most of my life and never maintained a stable weight. I learned that I would often eat to deal with my feelings. Staying overweight was the easy way out for me.”

Allie says her improved health helped her with her job as a hairstylist, where she was standing on her feet all day. She now runs 5K races and stays physically active by going to the gym five days a week. “It takes a lot of effort to be active at 280 pounds. I keep that in mind. I will never tell myself I can’t do something now.”

Dr, Kakkilaya said he is very pleased with Rebecca and Allie’s results. “The gastric sleeve procedure has revolutionized weight-loss surgery. It is safe and has been shown to reduce obesity, improve life expectancy, and decrease the health risks from chronic diseases. Long-term, we are seeing good results with maintained weight-loss.”

Mom and daughter say that although they feel good, they don’t think of themselves of having reached their goal. “Being healthy is a lifetime goal,” said Allie. “Surgery was a tool for us. It feels good to be in tune with your body, and we will continue to keep working at it.”

“As a mother, I couldn’t be happier that my daughter is happy and healthy, said Rebecca. “And to add to that happiness, I’m now a grandmother and get to fully enjoy this special time with my family.”

Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center’s Bariatric Surgery program is accredited as a Comprehensive Center by the American College of Surgeons Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). A MBSAQIP accreditation acknowledges a center’s commitment to providing and supporting quality improvement and patient safety efforts for metabolic and bariatric surgery patients.

To learn more about Rebecca and Allie’s story, click the link below for their testimonial on Lourdes’ YouTube channel.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeKXRPUFHAc&t=26s

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