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Mom Takes Son to Mexico for Gastric Surgery

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75% of people in the US are overweight. 16% of them are children under the age of eleven. For many families struggling with overweight children, surgery is their only chance at change. But is taking them across the border worth the risk?

Being overweight was just something that 39-year-old Dante Fishell accepted as a norm -- she's been overweight her whole life and suffers from diabetes. She has tried every diet under the sun and nothing ever worked. But when she watched her son Joey balloon to 300 lbs at the young age of 13, she realized that surgery might be their only hope at saving his life. Dante found a surgeon in Tijuana, Mexico that would perform Gastric Lap Banding on both her and her son -- despite the fact that the procedure is currently not FDA approved for minors. Dante did not seek consent from Joey's pediatrician or from her own physician, she just went to Mexico.

Recently, UCSD Medical Center, along with ten other centers around the US, ran a trial to evaluate whether gastric banding is a safe and effective weight loss treatment in obese adolescents ages 14 - 17. Dr. Santiago Horgan, the Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery and Director for Center for the Treatment of Obesity at UCSD, who ran the trial and has performed more than 1,000 gastric banding procedures, told us in an interview that he does see patients in his office from complications who went to Tijuana. "It's very difficult to adopt a patient who we did not approve for surgery. It is a risk. In this case you need to see your physician and dietician, psychologist, etc., any time you need." Dr. Horgan also believes that a critical element to this operation is follow up. "The Follow up is the most important part of the surgery. If you go to Tijuana to have the procedure because it's cheaper, you will be limited to (access to) doctors with regards to follow up because you need to cross the border to see them."

We spoke to momlogic's pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson, who believes that surgery should always be the last option and "should be coordinated with nutrition and exercise counseling."

But just how worthy is this surgery? Worthy enough to cross the border? You be the judge...

before


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191 comments so far | Post a comment now
lindee October 16, 2008, 6:17 PM

Why are fat people surprised when they have fat kids then force the kid to change but they stay the same? This broad committed child abuse and kidnapping.

Linda October 16, 2008, 6:18 PM

You are going to see more and more American’s heading for Europe and Mexico to get treatments that are not legal here. Why? Because they are tired of waiting for treatments and cures that they know exists,but our government will not sanction.
Did you know that there are a lot of different alternative medicines out there that even cure cancer? Do you know why they arent available here? Because the ACS and other medical agencys dont want to make them available. Another reason is because they are expensive. So basically we dont get the treatments because our health care wont pay for them.

Ali October 16, 2008, 6:19 PM

As an RN, I know the risks of these types of surgeries, and I also know that even though these surgeries can help people lose drastic amounts of weight, they are also not the answer for someone who is not willing to change their diet and exercise. A teenager who has parents that are overweight and setting an example is not going to change his habits. I am overweight myself and have to say, as I have recently lost 41 pounds, the only thing that truly works is watching your portion sizes and getting off your butt and getting some cardiovascular exercise.

Anonymous October 16, 2008, 6:19 PM

What is wrong with all you people who think this is ok? That kid is a junkie and his mother is the DEALER!!!What ever happened to being responsible for ones actions - including stuffing food into your own face and providing junk for your son to stuff into his. I have NO doubt that if we check back in with this fat family in a year or two they will be back to where they started and most likely be bigger than where they started. Why? Because that mother has no self control herself and will probably slip back into her lazy, junk food eating/serving ways. I pray to god that someone intervenes and stops this mother for continuing to abuse her son with junk food.

Al Smith, Jr. October 16, 2008, 6:22 PM

Sometimes the truth hurts, but here it is:
The sad part about people who claim they’ve tried to lose weight is that they no longer have a ‘real gauge’ as to how difficult losing weight is. I too was overweight until about the age of 22, and upon learning how to take it off CORRECTLY I’ve kept it off for over 13 years. In hopes of using my personal experience to help motivate others I opened a fitness consulting practice several years ago.

Sadly, what I’ve learned over the years is that people have been so brainwashed into believing that losing weight is suppose to be QUICK, FAST & EASY…when they don’t see results in 1 to 2 months they assume they’ve tried [everything] to lose the weight and give up. The reality is that losing weight takes hard work, commitment and dedication—qualities that can’t be purchased in a box; Gastric Surgery is just another attempt at avoiding the real problem: self-discipline. All a band does is stop you from doing what YOU KNOW you shouldn’t be doing—following a BALLANCED nutrition plan and exercise routine!

And balanced doesn’t mean starving yourself for XXX amount of weeks or exercising for XXX hours a day. If you’re not genetically blessed with skinny genes, then getting/staying in shape requires that you wake up every morning and walk the tight rope of not over-eating/under eating and over-training/under-training, EVERYDAY! The reason why the majority of people regain weight once they’ve lost it is because once their body adapts to the new level of calories and/or activity, it starts storing fat again. In other words, THERE IS NO END DATE if you want to stay in shape…and living at one extreme or another, isn’t a LIFE LONG FITNESS strategy (I wont even mention how many people I’ve seen learn how to eat past the band restriction).

I think the mom said it best when she stated that she couldn’t help her child because she didn’t understand portion control herself [in other words, how can you teach your child self discipline if you don’t have it]. The bottom line is that if you’re not genetically blessed with skinny genes and you want to lose the weight, AND KEEP IT OFF, you’ve got to be committed to following a nutrition plan and exercise routine EVERYDAY (like brushing your teeth)…that’s why it’s called a LIFESTLYE!


louiis October 16, 2008, 6:23 PM

if the child has to go to other coutrys to get pos treatment,, god bless him,, i know friends that go to mexico too for ozone medicine,, it gets expensive though,, weekly stays every month,, shes doing much better tho,

Dana  October 16, 2008, 6:26 PM

I just wanted to say none of you need to judge Mexico and Dr. Ortiz without doing some research because you all sound like idiots! If you type in his name….here let me spell it out for you….GOOGLE, DR. ARIEL ORTIZ, you will find that he is the TOP surgeon in this field! Not one of them, but THE BEST! He has preformed over 6000 of these operations, and trained A LOT of the Doctors in America. I live in the state of Texas, and here in my state he trained 90% of the Lapband doctors. The lapband was not FDA appproved in America until 2001 and Dr. Ortiz started in 1994, beside the man who invented the band. It was in Europe and Mexico before the U.S. So, while I love America, we are not always on the top everything! In fact, I basically feel like Doctors RAPE us in this country for expensive health care and surgies. Buy going to Dr. Ortiz you not only have the BEST surgeon, you pay 1/3 the price!!! As far as Joey, if you talk to him he will tell you he is a whole lot happier! So, stop your judging people! Oh, one more thing, American Dr.’s have been known to Botch up surgeries so while I know there may be unsafe treatment in Mexico, Dr. Ortiz’s staff, hospital etc. is better than anything I have EVER experienced in the U.S. I am one of his patients, I should know!

Molly6 October 16, 2008, 6:32 PM

I wonder if this mom could be charged with reckless endangerment? I think child protection should look into this case. If its illegal in the US, then the mom should be charged for endangering her child’s life. What if her son had died? She’s disgusting in my eyes.

marilyn  October 16, 2008, 6:36 PM

just want to set the record straight…the surgery the teen had is not GASTRIC BYPASS. No part of his intestines was cut and/or re-routed. He had gastric BANDING, which is simply a restrictive procedure. He will not need any additional vitamin or mineral supplementation. He is not at risk due to any malabsorption of any nutrient.

I am a successful gastric bypass patient. I know the sacrifices that need to be made; I know the life long issue that need to be addressed. And you’re all right…it SHOULD NOT BE the first line of defense to be tried, but rather a last resort.

WILLIAM SANTORO MD October 16, 2008, 6:39 PM

AS A PHYSICIAN MYSELF (RETIRED AND OLDER), I DO NOT CONDONE UNAPPROVED TREATMENTS OF ANY KIND FOR PATIENTS. HOWEVER, AS A CITIZEN AND A PATIENT MYSELF IN PRESENT DAY AMERICA, I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY MANY PATIENTS HAVE AT LEAST SOME DISTRUST FOR WHAT THEIR REGULAR AND “APPROVED” CARE PROVIDERS SAY. PATIENTS TODAY SUSPECT, SOMETIMES RIGHTLY SO, THAT PHYSICIANS, HMO’S, AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL SOMETIMES “DISAPPROVE” OF CERTAIN PROCEDURES (WHILE PUSHING OUTHERS) NOT PRIMARILY OUT OF CONCERN FOR PATIENTS, BUT BECAUSE OF SOME VESTED FINANCIAL INTEREST. FOR EXAMPLE, AMERICAN LAP BAND SURGEONS DON’T WANT TO LOSE BUSINESS TO THOSE BELOW THE BORDER, EVEN THOUGH THE PROCEDURE IS CHEAPER FOR THE PATIENT IN MEXICO; DRUG COMPANIES DON’T WANT PEOPLE GETTING MEDS CHEAPER FROM CANADA, AND LOBBY THE FDA TO SCARE PEOPLE ABOUT THE “DANGER”; PEOPLE RIGHTLY WORRY ABOUT GETTING TOO MANY CAT SCANS TO PAY FOR THEIR DOCTORS’ EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT;AND MANY YOUNGER DOCTORS SPECIALIZE ONLY IN THE MOST EXPENSIVE PROCEDURES, LIKE LASIK EYE SURGERY. I ASKED A FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE OF MINE, AN OPHTHALMOLOGIST WHOSE SON IS ALSO AN EYE DOCTOR, SPECIALIZING IN LASIK SURGERY, IF THE SON ALSO TREATS PATIENTS WITH MORE MUNDANE EYE NEEDS, LIKE GLAUCOMA. HE TOLD ME HIS SON “REFERS THEM OUT FOR THAT”. IS IT REALLY ANY WONDER PEOPLE TURN TO ALTERNATIVE SOURCES AND CHOICES?




JAMES October 16, 2008, 6:40 PM

I THINK SHE DONE RIGHT. SHE WAS THINKING OF HER CHILD AND NO ONE ELSE.ALL OF YOU WHO ARE ON YOUR HIGH HOURSE.. GET A LIFE AND LOOK AT THE REAL WORLD TODAY.THESE KIDS TODAY WILL BE DYING TOMORROW FROM BEING OVER WEIGHT!I WAS VERY OVER WEIGHT AND HAD THE GASTRIC BYPASS AND IT SAVED MY LIVE. I AM HERE NOW FOR MY KIDS. I WOULD DO IT AGAIN IN A HEART BEAT!

LEKILI October 16, 2008, 6:42 PM

FOR HEAVENS SAKE PEOPLE. IT WAS LAP BAND SURGERY. A SMALL INCISION AT THE NAVAL. NOT THE HORRIBLE INVASIVE GASTRIC BI-PASS SURGERY OF YESTERDAY. “LAID AND SPLAYED” …. ALL SURGERY CAN BE DANGEROUS. ANESTESIA BEING BE BIGGEST RISK. BUT SURGERIES ON MINORS REQUIRING ANESTESIA ARE NOT BANNED IN THE U.S. IT IS FAR MORE PROBABLE THAT THIS CHILD WOULD SUFFER FROM DISEASE AND POSSIBLE DEATH AS WELL AS SOCIAL OUTCASTING (WHICH HE ALREADY WAS. LOW SELF ESTEEM IS NO JOKE. MY OVERWEIGHT SON HAS BATTLED ALCOHOL AND DRUGS FOR AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER. AND HE IS ONLY 21 NOW. THE DAMAGE IS DONE AND I AM NOT SURE IF ANYONE CAN EVER REPAIR IT. LAP BANDING…. MINOR SURGERY… AND 100% REVERSABLE IF NEEDED.

Joe Morris, Jr. October 16, 2008, 6:42 PM

I want to first applaud the mother for taking the neccessary steps to ensure the health and life, of not only her son but herself! I had Open Gastric Bypass Surgery in January 2006 in which by the end of December of 2006 I had gone from 435 to 223! 212 POUNDS GONE!Now this follows the trend of my mom and grandmother, whom had thier (older) vertical banded gastric bypass surgeries in 1985 and 1989, respecively and they did great! However, the surgery, Lap Band and Open Bypass, is NOT FOR EVERYONE! And does not work the same for everyone. I learned from the mistakes that my mom and grandmother made when they had their surgeries. For the three week preceding the surgery and 9 months following, I ate NO SOLID FOOD but stayed on a liquid diet, in which my doctor was shocked, but approved of after reviewing my lab tests every doctors visit. At one time in 2005, I was 500 pounds, wearing 6X jeans and shirts and my life was miserable! If you are thinking about either one of the mentioned surgeries, please by all means consult your doctors, and make sure the doctor you are considering to perform the surgery has a good track record with his patients success. The doctor I had come very highly recommended! And the surgery I had, FYI, cost $16,600 and about $4,000 in lab costs. If I had to do it agian, I wouldnt even think twice! It has saved my life and added some more year to my life. So all of you that are knocking it, you cant say anything till you walk in the shoes of someone who is suffering from obesity, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea. God Bless ALL!

Joe Morris, Jr.
High Tech Redneck
Mississippi

Anonymous October 16, 2008, 6:42 PM

Stop eating Fatty

S. October 16, 2008, 6:43 PM

Letting your child baloon up to 300 lb before he’s 15 is nothing short of child abuse.

k October 16, 2008, 6:45 PM

WHAT ARE U FEEDING THESE KIDS TODAY?

Anonymous October 16, 2008, 6:50 PM

Have any of you been fat and I mean REALLY Fat. I don’t think so. I am not a fan of the Lap Band Surgery but I am of the Gastric Bypass. I had the proceedure done 10 years ago and have not gained any of it back. I was told by my surgeon that I could not loose weight because my genetic makeup was stopping me. And it is true If you look at my family they are all overweight and not by any 30 pounds either we are talking at least 100 pounds. The sad thing is I tried all the diets including the pills and nothing worked and finally when I reached 500 pounds and was destroying my body and joints did I have the surgery that not only saved my life but changed it forever. All the cruel people out there who had said “why doesn’t she stop eating” and those who made fun of me in the grocery store finally stoped to talk to me and get to know me. I was eating less than 1000 calories per day when I went to surgery but I was gaining weight anyway, now I am eating 2500 calories and I never gain weight. So to those of you who say go on a diet and exercise. Put a backpack on with 100 pounds in and then try to exercise. Can’t do it can you. It’s too bad people must go to dangerous lenths to make their life normal, especially when it envolves children. Children are the cruelest of all imagine being a teenager with the other teens telling you that you are ugly and FAT. I would do anything to help my child in this situation.

Jim October 16, 2008, 7:01 PM

Another assinine question from the idiots at Aol.99% of the respondents are not qualified to answer that question. Its a good thing aol doesn’t have to rely on members for regerating income because they would go broke.No one would pay for the garbage that is put together by the morons at aol.

Mercy October 16, 2008, 7:10 PM

I have an over weight son who is 10
he has been called evry fat name out there. I would take him to have the surgery in a hart beat. I dont blame the mother for doing what she feels is best for her son. The world is mean to over weight people.

neesee October 16, 2008, 7:11 PM

This is just dumb! Those of you who
are saying the lap band surgery is a
great idea because it is reversible
‘in case anything goes wrong’ should
think about if ‘something’ goes wrong,
it may be too late to save you! And
going to Mexico for any procedure is
just asking for it! Oh sure, some of
you will roll the dice and come home
feeling lucky but Tijuana coffins are
cheap and dirty too. Good luck! I
would learn to stop gobbling and stick
to that before letting some fat beaner
cut into me! My parents taught me from
birth how to eat healthy and exercise
and guess what? I’m not overweight!
I know there are medical conditions
that some have that make it impossible
to lose weight but all the lap band
does is make it so you can’t eat so
much. Like the good old ‘wiring the
mouth shut’ trick. Most of you just don’t stick to healthful living and try
to get in on the ‘thyroid condition’
reason for your largness. Quit trying
to eat more than a big hog and see what
happens. And even if you just walk
around or swim to start with it will
help. You don’t have to go to a gym to
be fit. Do it at home if you are too
embarassed to go out into public. (Which I believe that in itself should
be incentive enough to NOT eat that
extra rack of ribs or the WHOLE cake in one sitting!)


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