October 28, 2004 in Nation/World

Man lost 421 pounds before obesity surgery

Doris Haugen Associated Press
File/Associated Press photo

Patrick Deuel talks Aug. 9 at Avera McKennan Hospital, in Sioux Falls, S.D., about how he lost 421 pounds since June after checking into the hospital at 1,072 pounds.
(Full-size photo)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A man who weighed about half a ton when he was admitted to a hospital was recovering Wednesday from obesity surgery. Doctors said he was “doing very well,” moving around and even cracking jokes.

“He’s very witty,” surgeon Dr. Frederick Harris told reporters Wednesday.

Patrick Deuel, 42, underwent the procedure to reduce the size of his stomach four months after being admitted to the hospital at 1,072 pounds.

He was in good spirits and relieved Tuesday’s procedure went so well, Harris said. “We didn’t find anything that was scary at all,” he said.

Rehabilitation could start in about a week and Deuel could be home by the end of next month, Harris said.

In the hours leading up to surgery, however, Deuel was anxious, wanting the procedure done but worrying he wouldn’t wake up, Harris said. Once the surgery preparations started, he began to relax.

“He was singing right up to the part where they put the tube in his mouth,” Harris said.

Deuel had been bedridden since last fall and was malnourished because so many of his calories came from foods high in fat and carbohydrates.

Deuel had difficulty breathing and suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes linked to obesity that his doctor said were killing him.

Gastric bypass surgery was thought to be his best chance for permanent weight loss, but doctors said Deuel needed to lose some weight first, to gain enough strength so he could walk on his own and prove he was healthy enough to survive the surgery.

Before going into surgery on Tuesday, Deuel had lost 421 pounds. He said his diabetes and high-blood pressure were under control and credited the results to a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet and exercise.

Caregivers and others are starting to take notice of the changes, he said.

“Every time I move they don’t look at me like, ‘My God, he is going to fall down or something,’ ” Deuel told Sioux Falls television station KELO in an interview before the surgery.

Last month, Deuel took his first steps with the help of nurses and two walkers for support. More recently, he has been walking up stairs and even swimming at the hospital’s pool.

Gastric bypass is the most common obesity surgery in the United States. The operation involves creating a pouch in the upper stomach and attaching it to a section of intestine, reducing the amount of food patients can eat.

Deuel, a former restaurant manager from Valentine, Neb., is just under 6 feet tall and has always fought his weight. He weighed about 90 pounds in kindergarten and more than 250 pounds in middle school.

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