Mother and daughter lose 225 pounds through weight loss surgery

May 24, 2012

Mother and daughter Kathy Rufener and Wendi Wood have both had their lives transformed by a special surgery that aids weight loss.

Kathy Rufener and Wendi Wood

Combined, they have lost more than 225 pounds.

Both women had a special gastric banding surgery to help them lose weight. Today, they each have a Lap-Band on their stomachs. The band reduces the capacity of each of their stomachs and helps them get full faster and stay full longer.

While Rufener struggled with weight her entire life, Wood was thin as a child and teen but later gained weight when she had children.

Over time, both women felt the effects of obesity. They had less energy, had a harder time moving around and Kathy was put on medications to help control weight-related illnesses.

Seeking to make a change, four years ago Wood and Rufener attended a Weight Loss Surgery seminar together at Boone Hospital Center.

Rufener watched as her daughter decided to have the surgery and began shedding weight. Wood’s body and health completely changed as she lost 175 pounds.

Seeing her daughter’s success eventually convinced Rufener and her husband that it was time for her to have the surgery as well.

Rufener took advantage of a special limited time offer at Boone Hospital to have the gastric band placed for just $9,500. Financing options are also available.

To date, she’s already lost more than 50 pounds and is nearing her personal goal.

“I feel so much lighter,” Rufener said. “Now I can’t imagine walking around with those 50 pounds on me.”

The weight loss has also helped her reduce and eliminate some of her medications.

For Rufener and Wood, their weight loss success has been a great bonding experience.

“If it wasn’t for her getting involved in the first place I probably would have never done it,” said Rufener.

Weight loss patient loses more than 200 pounds: “I’m not just half the woman I once was, I’m a third”

January 24, 2012

By Linda Stevenson

Linda, of Moberly, shared this story via the online submission form. Click here to share your story.

I was facing my 55th birthday, and something much worse — my weight!

I badly needed total knee replacement in both knees but I was told it was pointless until I lost at least 80 pounds because my weight was crushing what was left of the cartilage in my knees.

I had tried Weight Watchers, Atkins, diets of all sorts — and as a last resort, attended a Weight Loss Seminar at Boone Hospital. It literally changed my life!

My husband, who has been my strongest support through everything (literally through thick and thin!) attended with me and we lost a combined 40 pounds before I even met with Dr. Pitt to discuss surgery.

I continued to lose some weight with the pre-surgery liquid diet and I have never looked back.

By January, I had lost the necessary 80 pounds and had my right knee replaced and my left knee replaced in June, both at Boone Hospital — where I could not have been in better hands.

I had my surgery on the Friday before Labor Day and actually went back to work on Labor Day — just three short days!

It has now been over two years and I’ve lost over 200 pounds — I’m not just half the woman I once was, I’m a third.

Thank you, Dr. Pitt — and Tina — you are awesome!!!

Find your own path to weight loss success during Day One, an inspirational starting point hosted Oct. 20 at Boone Hospital Center. Learn more:

A new future: Weight loss surgery changes life trajectory for Parkland Nurse

January 23, 2012

By Jacob Luecke and Ursula Kthiri

As a nurse in Parkland Health Center’s Intensive Care Unit, each day Angela Weiss sees people battling serious health problems. Not long ago, she also saw something else in her patients.

Nurse Angela Weiss poses at Parkland Health Center.

“It felt like I was seeing my future,” Weiss said.

Weiss had long struggled with her weight. She also had high blood pressure and was insulin resistant. All of these put her health at serious risk.

Seeking to make a change, Weiss decided to try a surgical option to help her lose weight.

Surgical weight loss had been added as a BJC HealthCare employee health benefit at the beginning of 2011. Weiss reached out to Boone Hospital Center’s Weight Loss Surgery program.

“Boone has a great reputation for quality care,” Weiss said. “When I called them, they were very easy to talk to, and made me feel like they were interested in my wellbeing.”

After participating in pre-surgery education and dieting, Weiss came to Boone Hospital on July 5 and had a gastric band placed on her stomach by Dr. Thomas Etter.

The band works by reducing a patient’s stomach capacity. With gastric banding, patients get full faster and stay full longer.

Weiss said her surgery went well.

“I felt so good and had so much energy,” she said. “I wasn’t sore at all. Recovery was very easy.”

Weiss said the surgery helped her eat less without feeling hungry.

“I can still eat everything I ate before, just much less of it,” she said. “I eat around 4-6 ounces of food at a meal and I don’t feel hungry. The ‘head’ hunger is gone, and I get hungry at the appropriate times.”

Angela Weiss before surgery.

With this change, Weiss has already lost 62 pounds. In addition to the weight loss, her blood pressure is now normal and she no longer takes blood pressure medicine. She’s also seen her cholesterol and non-fasting blood sugar drop. In addition, she’s stopped getting the daily headaches that have bothered her for most of her life.

“I feel like a different person,” Weiss said.
But more than anything, Weiss said the surgery has improved how she feels about herself.

“I can do more, feel happier, and I even work better,” she said. “I feel more valuable.”

With improved health, and a better life, Weiss’s future is looking brighter all the time.

“This program has changed my life. It’s changed my family. I’ll be around longer for them,” she said.

To learn more about Boone Weight Loss Surgery, visit You can also call the hospital’s Coordinator of Bariatrics, Lisa Schaffer, at 573-815-6447, or reached her via email at

All aboard! Weight loss allows woman to ride zoo train

September 24, 2011

By Bev Semar

Bev, of Columbia, shared this story about how Boone Weight Loss Surgery has helped change her life. Click here to share your story.

One of the turning points in my decision to fight to have a Lap-Band was the day I could not get on the train at the St. Louis Zoo.

Bev Semar on the train at the St. Louis Zoo.

We went to the zoo last week and I got on the train! It was a very emotional moment for me.  People were looking at me because I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I really wanted to stand up and scream but I didn’t want to scare anyone.

My next goal is to see 100 pounds of weight loss — I am close, but not there yet, but I know that is right around the corner too!

A rare connection: Surgeon’s weight loss story inspires patients

June 30, 2011

Even as a child, James Pitt had a weight problem.

His mom remembers it starting around the time he was three, after his tonsils were removed. Growing up as a heavy child, Pitt decided to try dieting at just 10 years old. It was the first of many tries.

“I can tell you, for some of us it doesn’t matter what you do, how much you restrict your diet or how many times you go on a diet,” he said. “I’ve been trying not to eat since I was 10. It’s just a constant struggle of up and down, up and down.”

Pitt remembers being in the best shape of his life as he graduated from high school. However, at five feet, seven inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds at the time, he was still technically overweight and nearly obese.

In college and later in medical school, Pitt’s weight problem took a turn for the worse as he ballooned to nearly 300 pounds. Then, after he graduated, he became Dr. James Pitt, DO — a surgeon.

In the early 2000s, Dr. Pitt started performing gastric banding surgeries to help obese patients. The minimally-invasive procedure places a small band around the upper portion of the stomach. The device makes patients feel full and get hungry less often.

During patient checkups following the banding surgery, Dr. Pitt saw that the device worked. His patients were slowly losing the weight they had struggled with their entire lives. Patients with serious weight-related health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes were seeing those problems improve or disappear completely. Read the rest of this entry »

Patient: Shirt and pant sizes dropping following weight loss surgery

April 25, 2011

Our friend Randy Guthrie checks in with this video.

He’s having great success with Boone Weight Loss Surgery. In months, he’s gone from a 44 to 38 inch waist. His shirt size is now 2X rather than 4X.

“I feel 100 percent better,” he says.

National weight loss campaign features Boone patient’s success

April 20, 2011

Hula-hooping on an old lady’s lawn in California for a Hollywood camera crew — Wendi Wood never imagined she’d be doing this.

But now, the whole country can see the result.

The photos are part of a national Allergan Lap-Band ad campaign and Wendi’s ad is in the May editions — out now — of several popular magazines: Rachael Ray, Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens and Real Simple. In June, she’ll be in Oprah’s magazine.

“It’s one of those things that’s just too good to be true,” said Wendi, a teacher from Clarence. “I never thought I’d be that girl to be in a magazine.”

Looking back, it’s amazing how far Wendi has come in her transformation.

While she was fit and healthy as a teenage cheerleader, Wendi said she added about 50 pounds for each of the three children she carried in adulthood.

As she reached her mid-30s, Wendi said that when she looked in the mirror, she felt like the person looking back at her was not the Wendi she knew. She began avoiding getting her picture taken and stopped going out of the house as much.

Wendi, before the weight loss surgery in 2008.

“I used to make excuses not to do things, not to go places because I was embarrassed,” she said. “I was just ashamed of myself that I had gotten this far and had let myself go.”

She tried dieting many times, but the weight always came back. Eventually she turned to Boone Weight Loss Surgery.

On Nov. 19, 2008, Wendi came to Boone Hospital and had a gastric band placed. She said the procedure was quick and easy — she was out of the hospital that same morning.

Since the surgery, Wendi has lost 156 pounds. Her swimsuit is down to a size 8, compared to a size 24 just a few years ago.

Last year, she was featured in Boone Hospital’s local marketing for the weight loss surgery program. Then, in January, a marketing company contacted her about Allergan’s national Lap-Band campaign. She was asked to submit photos and a video of herself.

She made the cut and in early February she was flown to California with her husband for the shoot.

During the trip, Wendi said she was treated like a star. She was driven around in limos and stayed at a luxury hotel near the Santa Monica pier. She said her jaw was practically on the floor the entire trip.

Wendi at a Boone Hospital photo shoot in 2010.

“The guy who did my wardrobe had done a Will Ferrell movie the week before. The girl who did my make up does the Oprah show,” she said. “It was just a state of disbelief. It was the experience of a lifetime.”

Even today, when she sees her photo in the Lap-Band ad, Wendi said, “still, I don’t really believe that it’s real.”

Thinking back to years ago, and the progress she’s made since then, she said she gives credit to surgeon James Pitt, DO, at Columbia Surgical Associates and the Boone Weight Loss Surgery program.

“I would have never imagined that all this could happen,” she said.

For more information about Boone Weight Loss Surgery, visit


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