Jane Priest , Weight Loss Surgery

Jane Priest is the first to tell you that the bariatric surgery she had two years ago was "the best decision I ever made."

The 43-year-old manager of billing and collections at the Westside Family Medical Clinic says that the loss of weight since the surgery has given her much more energy and opportunities. "I feel great," Jane said. "I can ride my bike with my 11-year-old son Noah, which I couldn't do before. I can ride roller-coasters with him. The surgery has not only changed my life but his as well."
Jane also has a daughter, Ashley, 23.

A native of Great Lakes, Ill., Jane grew up in Green Bay, Wis., where she became a committed Cheese Head Green Bay Packer fan. She moved to Kalamazoo in 1987 where she earned an associates degree in science and medical office administration.

Two years ago, when she weighed 361 pounds, she attended a seminar on bariatric surgery by Dr. Stuart R. Verseman, a general and bariatric surgeon. About the same time her health insurance changed so that she could opt for the surgery and the insurance would cover the costs.

In October 2008, Dr. Verseman performed what is called a sleeve gastrectomy to permanently reduce the size of Jane's stomach. She described her stomach as now shaped like a banana.

"Everything went great," she said of her surgery and brief stay a Borgess Medical Center. "I have no complaints what-so-ever. Dr. Verseman was awesome, the staff was awesome."

By summer of 2010 Jane had lost about 150 pounds and had a goal to lose about 50 more. "I'm a work in progress," she said. "I'm committed to follow all the rules. I never looked at this as an easy fix. It's a life-style change and I have embraced it."