Just a little over a year ago, Tonya Howard weighed 227 pounds and was being considered for a heart transplant, even though her doctors weren't sure she would survive the surgery - or even general anesthetic.
"I was born with a bad heart and I've been overweight most of my life," said Howard. Barely in her 40s, she was tired all the time and took 11 medications. "My doctors advised me to lose the weight, but I had tried a lot of diet programs and even took diet shots, without success. So, when my doctor suggested bariatric surgery I said, 'Let's go for it!' "
Before she could have weight loss surgery, Via Christi Weight Management thoroughly evaluated Howard for the program and she began classes where she learned everything she needed to know about the surgery, how she would eat afterward and how important exercise was to being healthy.
Just two months after her surgery, she wasn't tired anymore and slowly began to taper off medications. Today, she's down to 133 pounds and a single prescription.
"I had applied for disability because my heart doctor and I didn't think I'd ever be able to go back to work," explained Howard. "Now that I lost the weight, I'm looking for a new job."
In addition to eating right, Tonya uses her Wii FitTM for 1-1½ hours of aerobics, stretches and yoga a day. Since having surgery, her ejection fraction (amount of blood pumped out of the heart when it contracts) has gone from a mere 20 percent (normal range is 50-70 percent) to 55 percent.
"It's great to feel good about you and not be in those plus-sized clothes — and being off all my medications but one is amazing," she said.
"The simple fact is Via Christi Weight Management and bariatric surgery saved my life. I wouldn't be here now if it weren't for them."
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