One Couple’s TransformationSponsored By The University of Miami Health System

Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz is Chief of the Division of Bariatric Surgery at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. He performs surgery at UHealth Tower in Miami and has an office in Doral, Florida. To make an appointment, call 305-689-1910. For more about bariatric surgery options, Click Here to visit the University of Miami’s health news blog.

NONA AND DENIS NERNEY

Army veteran Denis Nerney met his wife Nona forty years ago at the local VFW in Homestead, Florida. They’ve been a team ever since. But one challenge began to feel insurmountable for the couple. As the decades passed, Denis and Nona gained an excessive amount of weight, which they attribute to unhealthy lifestyle choices.

“I drank too much, ate too much, and had a great time at it, but I ended up 68-years-old and 400 pounds,” says Denis. Ultimately, Nona became wheelchair bound and in need of knee surgery. When she was refused the surgery due to risks associated with her weight, the Nerneys hit a crisis point that led to the biggest transformation of their lives.

Together, Nona and Denis saw Nestor de la Cruz-Muñoz, Chief of the Division of Bariatric Surgery at University of Miami Health System. “There are several different options available for bariatric surgery and we offer all of them,” says Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz. “It’s my job to present the patients with the advantages and disadvantages of each option so they can make an informed decision.”

Bariatric surgery is not a one-size-fits all program. Patients with advanced diabetes, for example, may benefit from the gastric bypass rather than the gastric sleeve because the gastric bypass procedure results in greater reversal of serious health conditions. Healthier patients may choose the gastric sleeve.

Both the gastric bypass and the gastric sleeve make changes to the anatomy of the digestive system so that patients require less food and feel fuller faster. With its individualized approach, UHealth’s bariatric surgery team works closely with clients to guide them in making the choice that’s right for them.

Nona chose the gastric bypass, and Denis went with the gastric sleeve. “We had tried every diet under the sun. We lost a lot of weight, but it always came back more than what it was. It just wasn’t working,” says Denis. “But this time was completely different. You really learn very quickly what you can and can’t eat. Even though its very small portions, you feel satisfied.”

It’s been two years since the surgeries, and the Nerneys have kept the weight off, in part through a more adventurous lifestyle that includes bike riding. “All of a sudden you’re like 25 years younger and you can do everything,” says Denis.

“I’m committed to it,” says Nona. “I still need the knee surgery, but I’m putting it off as long as possible because now I can walk.”

“These operations are the most gratifying of any that I’ve done as a surgeon because we really get to change people’s lives and they have a long time afterward to enjoy the changes,” says Dr. de la Cruz-Muñoz. “Most of my patients have lost hope that they’d ever be a normal weight again and do the things they see other people do.”

In addition to bike riding, the Nerneys have been traveling more and bought a kayak. “We can go on excursions now and do things we couldn’t do before,” says Denis. “It changed our lives so much for the better.”

FOCUSING ON YOU

Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on CBS-4. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for UHealth, the University of Miami Health System.

Above content provided by UHealth, the University of Miami Health System

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