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Bariatric surgery helps local woman survive rare medical emergency

In September 2019 Gwen Garner-Rouse, a then 69-year-old retired college administrator, suffered an aneurysm of her superior mesenteric artery, a rare medical emergency that fewer than 2 percent of people survive.

After being life-flighted from Braselton to Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville, it was fast-thinking and skilled medical trauma personnel that saved her life that day, but it was her decision to have gastric bypass surgery in 2018 after years of battling obesity – and the subsequent 150 pounds of excess weight she lost – enabled them to find and stop the aneurism before it was too late.

Following years of yo-yo diets, exercise regimens and the psychological effects of battling weight issues, Garner-Rouse took the advice of her doctor and looked into bariatric surgery. She found the Longstreet Clinic’s Center for Weight Management and bariatric surgeon Dr. Miguel B. del Mazo, and working with that team determined gastric bypass surgery was the right choice for her.

It was that surgery combined with a determined post-operation regimen, that lead to 150 pounds of weight loss in the 18 months leading up to Garner-Rouse’s aneurysm.

“Dr. Creel told me that he had about two minutes to save my life, and that if I had still been obese when this happened that he might not have been able to find the source of the bleeding,” Garner-Rouse said. It was a decision that, ultimately, saved her life on that fall night of 2019.

Gwen’s story was recently featured on Fox 5 Atlanta. To read more about her journey and watch the feature, click here.

To learn more about the weight loss programs available at our Center for Weight Management, click here.

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