Stomach-Banding Operation Doctor Helped Pioneer Made Him Big Loser

January 02, 2008

NYU surgery Prof. Dr. George Fielding now with wife, Christine Ren, and (below) at 300-plus pounds.

Dr. George Fielding had performed close to 600 LAP-BAND operations when he became a patient himself in December 1999.

An associate professor of surgery at NYU, Fielding had ballooned to 320 pounds before opting for the surgery he helped pioneer - a procedure in which a silicone band is placed around the top of the stomach to shrink how much food can be eaten.

Down to a trim 200 pounds, the 50-year-old Australian surgeon has now performed this operation on close to 5,000 patients.

As a new year arrives and countless New Yorkers resolve to lose weight, Fielding shares his story of triumph over obesity with Daily News staff writer Jose Martinez.

I would see myself in the mirror and think, "Here I am, in my early 40s and I've got all these old-man diseases."

High blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea - everything you could get, I had. It scared the hell out of me. I had gone from being on one medication to being on 11 in a single year.

That's really what prompted me to get this surgery. I really thought I was going to die.

I'd always been a jumbo, even as a kid. I went to my first doctor's appointment about my fatness when I was 8. And that's when all this crap started.

I was the fattest kid in my class, and I got called every name there is for a fat kid. I had all this nervousness when I started dealing with girls and I was always the last kid picked for teams.

One team would wear shirts, the other would wear no shirts. And I was always on the team with no shirts. It really sucked.

So I have a lot of empathy for these kids. It's terrible to be the fat kid, but I've been there, so it makes it easier for me and I hope it makes it easier for them.

I'd lost 60 to 80 pounds four or five times in my life. I would swim, surf, run around, lift weights and try every weird diet out there. I did everything I could to lose the weight, but it never really stayed off.

One of the misconceptions about obese people is that we don't try. I always tried to do something, but none of it stuck.

It gets humbling. You sit around and say, "I really can't do this by myself." It's really quite humbling when you get to that point.

I didn't see the LAP-BAND surgery as drastic, but it sure as hell was a last resort.

I was at 320 pounds and I had all these diseases. Now I'm at about 200 pounds. I lost all that weight over a two-year period, and I've kept it off.

I was hungry all the time. It's a wonderful change when the LAP-BAND allows me to not be hungry all the time. I would wake up hungry and go to bed hungry. It was constant.

Now I eat at most 1,200 calories a day. Before, I was eating 3,000 to 4,000 calories a day, easily. I just really cut it down. I'm not that hungry any more. I never have seconds anymore, and I simply eat healthy meals.

I used to eat a huge amount of steak, massive amounts of potatoes, and if we had pizza, I would eat the whole pizza without blinking. Now it's just one slice. If we had ice cream, I'd go for the whole pint. Now it's just one scoop.

Everything is in moderation now, just like grandma used to say.

It's not hocus-pocus. It just takes guts to realize you need to do this. It's a valid thing to do when you take a positive step for your health and your longevity.

I'm very happy now. Taking all this weight off ranks up there with having great kids and a great wife. It's right up there.

I've got more peace of mind now knowing that I'll be in my old bones, rather than dying young.