Patient Story - John Johnson

John Johnson

“Each year I celebrate March 14th as my ‘re-birthday'",says Rancho Bernardo resident, John Johnson, who underwent gastric bypass (bariatric) surgery at Palomar Health on that date in 2004. “My life has turned around completely. I have truly been ‘born’ again.” 

Before surgery, Johnson weighed about 575 pounds. He required assistance from family members to get around, was on disability from his job as a machinist, and felt that this surgery was his last chance to lose weight or he would die.

Charles Callery, M.D., and his partner, Kyle Potts, M.D., are board certified general surgeons who specialize in bariatric surgery, the procedure that helps severely obese people lose weight. Collectively, they have experience with more than 2,750 gastric bypass procedures, using both open and laparoscopic techniques. Dr. Callery is the Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Palomar Health.

Palomar Health and the two surgeons are currently in the application process to become a “Center of Excellence” as designated by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) or the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Criteria to be certified include such things as:

  • Performing at least 125 bariatric surgeries per year collectively
  • Performing at least 125 bariatric surgeries per lifetime and at least 50 per year for each surgeon
  • Reporting long-term patient outcomes and having an on-site inspection to verify all data
  • Providing a dedicated multi-disciplinary bariatric team that includes surgeons, nurses, medical consultants, nutritionists, psychologists and exercise physiologists

Individuals who are considered morbidly obese (85 to 100 pounds above their ideal weight) are at increased risk of developing other medical illnesses that may decrease their life span, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and joint problems. Obesity also leads to low self-esteem.

“Gastric bypass surgery is a tool to help patients lose weight,” says Dr. Potts, “When it is combined with behavior modification, psychological adjustment and reasonable exercise following surgery, it can result in much more significant and lasting reduction in both weight and weight-related illnesses.”

“I had to lose some weight before surgery, because my doctor was concerned about complications from surgery in patients of my size,” says Johnson. By adhering to a liquid diet, Johnson was able to lose 84 pounds before surgery. “For the first couple of months after surgery, I had to learn how to eat and drink again,” says Johnson. “It’s a complete change of mindset.”

Two years after surgery, Johnson has rebuilt his life. “I’m off all of my medications and I’m no longer depressed. I’m back at work and walking during lunchtime,” he says. “Best of all, I’ve married the love of my life, who I met at a support group for patients who have had bariatric surgery.”

Today, Johnson weighs about 240 pounds and has lost 33 inches from his pre-surgery waistline of 71 inches. Even better is the reduction in cholesterol: before surgery, it was dangerously high at 385; now it is 159. “For me, the educational seminars, Mentor Magic program and Thinner Times web site provided through Dr. Callery’s and Dr. Potts’ office, along with an employer that promotes healthy living, have all helped me to get my life back,” says Johnson. “This surgery is not right for everyone, but it was the best thing I ever did.”


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