By Jacqueline Quynh

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the battle against COVID, patients who underwent weight-loss surgery were found to have a lower risk of severe COVID complications, that’s according to a study recently published by the Journal of American Medical Association.

“I know 2020, 2021 was difficult for everybody, it was difficult for myself to stay in shape,” said Dr. Charan Donkor, Chief Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at HCA Florida University Hospital.

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COVID has brought a few extra pounds to many during the pandemic but for some struggling with the weight it’s not just unwanted but a major risk factor.

“I think that should be a very strong goal for everyone because COVID-19 definitely affects at a higher rate people who have weight issues and are dealing with obesity,” he explained.

Weight loss surgeons like Dr. Donkor has seen firsthand how overweight patients have struggled during this pandemic.

“And we saw that with our admissions in the hospital and we saw that with our patients that were on prolonged ventilation, patients that had to have tracheostomies because they were not able to get off the ventilator.”

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Surgeries such as gastric sleeve surgery, or gastric bypass could help protect against severe cases of COVID.

“If you’re at a BMI range, body mass index range at the level where it’s recommended that you should have bariatric surgery you should strongly consider it and seek your doctor’s advice,” he explained.

Once the procedure is over, the risk reduction happens quickly, though the specific time varies with each patient.

“I perform these surgeries with the robot and minimally invasive technique, it’s elective surgery, it’s very safe.”

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It may take long to get insurance approval, however, the procedure itself takes about 45 minutes. In the long run, it could help not just to fend off COVID, but many other diseases.

Jacqueline Quynh