UCHealth surgeons help save rural woman who weighed nearly 900 pounds
FORT COLLINS, Colorado (KCNC) — A woman who once weighed nearly 900 pounds says she has been given a second lease on life thanks to surgeons and health experts with UCHealth in northern Colorado.
Katie Peterson, who weighed more than 870 pounds in 2021, has lost more than 300 pounds since having nearly 80% of her stomach removed by doctors.
“I’ve always been a big person, even when I was little,” Peterson told CBS News Colorado.
Peterson recalled weighing more than 400 pounds by the time she graduated high school. She said she comes from a long family lineage of tall and heavier people.
She said a combination of genetics and poor eating habits associated with emotional traumas, led her to her nearly 900-pound life.
“My weight had gotten out of control,” Peterson said.
Peterson decided she wanted to have surgery to help get her life back in control, but most doctors around the country were unwilling to do the procedure citing health risks.
“We tried Nebraska, we tried South Dakota, we tried Utah. We went as far as Texas and couldn’t find anything,” Peterson said.
Peterson said she eventually started to give up much of her hope, especially after doctors started telling her death was imminent.
But one day she took out her tablet and continued to search for surgeons who could help her when she found Dr. Robert Quaid and UCHealth in Fort Collins. She traveled from her rural town in Wyoming to Poudre Valley Hospital where Quaid gave her the answer she so desperately needed.
“He immediately said, ‘We will help you,'” Peterson recalled.
Peterson had to iron out a few issues with getting approval with her insurance and was then approved for surgery.
“I was dumbfounded because I had so many doors closed in my face and so many doctors tell me there is nothing we can do because you are too big,” Peterson said.
Dr. Quaid said treating Peterson did come with some challenges not every hospital is capable of handling.
“She is the highest-weight person we have ever done in our hospital, and we have been doing this surgery since the early 90s,” Quaid said. “She was on her way to dying. She was going to die.”
Surgeons had to use two hospital beds to prop Peterson up for her surgery in the operating room. They also had to use a large scanning device that most hospitals do not have.
“This level of care can’t be done at just any hospital,” Quaid said.
Since the surgery, Peterson has lost more than 300 pounds.
“It is huge. That is two people. And I can definitely feel it,” Peterson said.
Peterson is now able to stand up without relying on the assistance of others. She is also able to walk more than 30 feet before needing a break, whereas before the surgery she could only take a few steps before sitting down.
Peterson will still likely need additional treatments and surgeries in the coming years to continue her progress. Excess skin will need to be removed and she may need additional surgery in 18 months to continue her weight loss journey.
Peterson said she wanted to share her story not only as a way to say thank you to the staff at UCHealth for helping her regain years of life but also as a way to encourage rural Americans to not give up their searches for the medical care they need.
“I’m stronger than I think I am. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Peterson said.
“I can’t do anything about the past, but I can do a lot about the future.”
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