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Liz Downard

At 303 pounds, Liz felt literally weighed down by her situation. She underwent a gastric bypass that changed the trajectory of her life.

April 08, 2024
Liz standing in front of plants

Take Me to St. Mark’s Hospital: 
Weight loss surgery that works

Liz Downard gazed at the ropes course’s harness, hanging high above the water park. Her son begged her to join in the fun, but Liz shook her head vehemently.

“I was like, ‘No way!’ I weighed so much; I knew that thing would break if I fell.” Liz said.

At this point in her life, Liz weighed 303 pounds and felt literally weighed down by her situation.

“I got tired of pushing my daughter on the swing after 5 minutes. I was afraid to join my kids at amusement parks because I might not fit in the rollercoasters – and I love rollercoasters! My family went to Europe last year, and I worried if the plane’s seat belt would fit. I got exhausted climbing old church towers (which were tight, small spaces, so that was nerve-wracking!), and I felt hesitant to try things in life because I was afraid I’d get stuck or wouldn’t fit. It held me back from everything,” Liz explained.

Liz began struggling with her weight at ten years old. About five years ago, she began seeking medical treatment for weight loss. Unfortunately, even with prescribed medications, her body hadn’t made progress.

Liz transferred from her job at Ogden Regional Medical Center to St. Mark’s Hospital, where she currently serves as director of the medical/surgical unit. Liz knew St. Mark’s had a Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation through the American College of Surgeons (ACS), so her interest in surgical options peaked and she moved her weight loss care to St. Mark’s Weight Treatment Center, under the direction of Nurse Practitioner Elizabeth Hanna and Dr. Rodrick McKinlay.

“Elizabeth Hanna spent a lot of time discussing surgical options with me, and based on my situation, we decided gastric bypass would be best. … Dr. McKinlay is so kind, patient, and willing to do whatever he can to help – and that goes as a professional provider as well as my personal doctor. Together, they were amazing,” Liz said.

Surgery day: Time for change

On April 3, 2023, Liz’s surgery day, Salt Lake City had a major snowstorm.

“My husband white-knuckled it down the freeway, but we made it. After check-in, I got an IV started, and we waited in a pre-op area where we met with Dr. McKinlay and Anesthesiologist Dr. Chad Campbell. Dr. McKinlay was ready to answer any last-minute questions and Dr. Campbell set me at ease,” Liz said.

During surgery, Dr. McKinlay performed a minimally invasive gastric bypass for Liz and removed her damaged gallbladder. She woke with six little incisions on her belly and experienced minimal pain.

“I didn’t have any problems with pain while I was in the hospital. I felt good and really excited. My nurses were fantastic. They knew what I needed to hear and took good care of me. That night, they got me up walking and started me on sips of water. I had a great recovery!” Liz said.

Liz - selfie photo dated Feb 26, 2023 next to Liz Selfie photo dated Nov 2,2023

A lifetime of positive results

During the next two weeks, Liz’s diet progressed from clear liquids to soft, moist foods and then to solids. She followed her physician’s instructions closely, generously chewing, walking consistently, and easing back into life.

Nine months later, Liz has gained a long list of positive results that she says will forever change the trajectory of her life:

  • So far, Liz has lost 117 pounds. With her current Body Mass Index (BMI) score, she’s no longer considered obese.
  • Liz no longer suffers from debilitating heartburn.
  • She said goodbye to the CPAP machine she used to need when sleeping.
  • Liz no longer needs medication for high blood pressure.
  • Her fatty liver issues have been resolved. 
  • Liz says she has significantly increased energy and improved sleep.

“It really has changed my life, and I truly believe that it saved my life long-term,” Liz said. “This surgery changes your whole metabolic system, and though I don’t understand how that works, I can tell you that it does. I have so much more energy, and all those things that were adding up toward bad long-term outcomes and complications in my life have been resolved because of the surgery.”

Her family has also noticed the improvements. Remember that water park ropes course Liz feared she would break due to her excess weight? Liz joined her kids just eight months after her surgery and conquered the elevated course over Christmas Break!

Liz on a the ropes course

“My life is dramatically different, and I feel great!” Liz said. “It’s improved every aspect of my life.”

To those considering bariatric surgery, Liz has some advice:

“Make an appointment at St. Mark’s Weight Treatment Center and ask some questions. Learn more, and go for it,” Liz said. “I’d also say to go to St. Mark’s because I know what amazing people we have who work there.”

 To start your weight loss journey, schedule an appointment with the St. Mark’s Weight Treatment Center by calling (801) 268-7479.

April 08, 2024
St. Mark's Hospital

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