For Bill Hunkapiller, relocating from Atlanta, Georgia to Tallahassee was "probably the best move of my life." Through a coincidental introduction by a real estate agent, he met a man who would become a great friend and the bariatric surgeon who would put him on a successful new path to a healthier life.
While still living in Atlanta, Mr. Hunkapiller inquired about the prospects of undergoing bariatric surgery to help him lose the weight that was having a significantly adverse effect on his body. "Growing up, through high school and in to college, I was very active. But unfortunately, I suffered a back injury in college that impacted my ability to exercise," he said. "A combination of reduced activity and over-eating contributed to weight gain that I just couldn't seem to lose." But before he could follow through with the surgery in Georgia, he moved to Tallahassee and began his tenure as an information security officer at a local educational institution.
Mr. Hunkapiller had armed himself with information about the benefits of the sleeve gastrectomy surgery. He knew that losing weight would positively impact many health issues he was experiencing. "I suffered from a lot of pain because the excessive weight aggravated my back injury. I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and was taking medication. I knew that at 44, I needed to make a change that would be lasting and give me back my life."
His chance meeting with Anthony Wright, MD, a general surgeon with Capital Regional Surgical Associates, opened a door to pursue his decision to have the surgery. "We hit it off right away," he said. "I asked him who performed these types of procedures and he said 'I do!' He referred me to the Bariatric Center at Capital Regional where I began the process."
In addition to gaining a new friend, Dr. Wright said Mr. Hunkapiller was mentally ready for the surgery. "He recognized that he had to change his life," said Dr. Wright. "He spent time educating himself on the sleeve surgery and understood that this approach is an effective and durable way to lose and keep the weight off. The more information a patient has, the better."
During a sleeve gastrectomy the surgeon removes approximately 80% of the stomach and the remainder is a pouch resembling a banana. It simply reduces the amount of food the stomach can hold. "Patients reduce their calorie intake and feel full on a fraction of the food they ate previously," said Dr. Wright. "It also reduces a hormone called ghrelin, which decreases hunger."
When he had his surgery, Mr. Hunkapiller weighed more than 300 pounds. He has lost 90 pounds and said he feels great. "I'm very active now, my blood pressure has gone down, and my cholesterol is great. I want to lose a little more, but I'm at the weight I was in college before my back injury."
Mr. Hunkapiller is quick to recommend his friend and surgeon, Dr. Anthony Wright to others that have a similar obesity issue. "I recommend they go to a seminar at the Bariatric Center and talk to Dr. Wright or another surgeon. It's a life-changing decision and I am very glad I did this for myself and my family."