Jacob had always been noticeably bigger than his peers – a characteristic that his Pee Wee football coaches viewed as an advantage during elementary school. Some of his classmates, however, weren’t always as kind.
“Jacob was bullied a lot,” says his mom Anesha. “It started in second grade. From then on, his self-esteem plummeted, and he started to keep to himself more and more, especially as he started junior high.”
Even though he was an active kid, Anesha says he just couldn’t get down to a healthy weight and Jacob’s size began prohibiting him from “normal” kid activities.
“He had difficulty riding his bike because of knee and back pain and couldn’t join in a lot of activities with his friends because of his size,” she says.
Like any mom, Anesha was desperate to find a solution. Like most parents in today’s digital age, she turned to Google to find an answer. Her search led her to the COACH (Center for Obesity and its Consequences in Health) Clinic at Children’s Health℠, the only comprehensive program to treat childhood obesity in North Texas.
There, Jacob and his family met with a multidisciplinary team of experts to identify any underlying health issues that may be contributing to his weight challenges and determine a plan of action.
“At our initial visit, Children’s [Health] didn’t yet have a pediatric bariatric surgery program,” says Anesha. “But after a few visits, we got a call that Dr. Qureshi had joined the team and thought Jacob may be a potential candidate for surgery.”
Faisal Qureshi, M.D., a board-certified pediatric surgeon at Children’s Health and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern, is trained in minimally invasive bariatric surgery. He and the Bariatric Surgery Team, which consists of a physician assistant, registered dietician, social worker and psychologist, as well as an entire Endocrine team, are committed to helping adolescents achieve a healthier lifestyle by providing the medical, surgical and psychological support they need to successfully reach their weight loss goals.
Anesha says that they did not take the decision to pursue surgery lightly. Though Jacob’s father had previously undergone bariatric surgery with positive results, the family recognized they were at a crossroads that had the potential to affect Jacob for the rest of his life. They talked with Dr. Qureshi about what to expect, discussed the potential risks and benefits of surgery, and made sure Jacob was committed to changing his habits and behaviors before and after the procedure.
“It has always been about so much more than ‘just’ weight loss surgery,” says Anesha. “It was a chance to give Jacob a normal childhood and a new start toward a healthier lifestyle.”
At his heaviest, Jacob weighed 388 pounds. At age 15, the Bariatric Surgery Team worked with him to lose as much weight as he could in preparation for surgery, and on the day of his surgery, March 3, he had already lost 30 pounds. His surgery and recovery went smoothly, and Jacob began to see results almost immediately.
He returned to school just two weeks after surgery, down another 14 pounds and filled with a new confidence gained from taking control of his health.
Since surgery, he has lost nearly 70 pounds and is doing great. He checks in daily through a Bluetooth-enabled scale and tablet that sends his vitals to the team for monitoring and has had several follow-up visits to track his progress and overall health. He’s gone from a size 54 waist to a 38 waist and a size 5XL top to an XXL in just few short months.
To Anesha, however, she views his success as so much more than just the numbers. She sees it in the persistent smile that seems to always be on his face. She watches him ride a bike with friends, full of joy and free of pain. She sees it as he rides a horse for the first time in years, joining his family in their business of raising race horses. But mostly, she sees it as she watches her little boy grow into a young man who is full of confidence and ready to face each day with his head high and full of hope.
“Dr. Qureshi and his team saved Jacob’s life,” she says. “Every day he wakes up I am reminded of what they have done for him, and I will never be able to repay them for that.”