Ashley’s Bariatric Journey

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Ashley 1 year after gastric bypass surgery

October, 2014 – Check in with Ashley, 1 year after gastric bypass surgery

Ashley 9 months after gastric bypass surgery

June, 2014 – Check in with Ashley, 9 months after gastric bypass surgery

Ashley 6 months after gastric bypass surgery (and 95 pounds lighter)

March 26, 2014 – Ashley underwent a gastric bypass surgery that was sponsored by Dr. Weiner and the Huron Valley Sinai Hospital. She is now six months out from surgery and has lost almost 100 pounds. Join her on her journey to healthy eating, exercising and happiness.

Bariatric Surgery Sponsorship


July 10, 2013

Dr. Matthew Weiner and DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital are sponsoring a bariatric weight loss surgery for a patient who does not have insurance coverage for this life saving intervention.

Dr. Weiner has organized this program to draw attention to the inequities in insurance coverage for bariatric surgery. It would be completely unheard of for an insurance plan to refuse to cover the treatment of high blood pressure or colon cancer, but around 10% of insurance company policies in Michigan do not provide coverage for bariatric surgery.

Because the disease of obesity has long been considered the result of poor decisions and a lack of commitment and willpower, there has been little support for those who suffer from this debilitating disease. As the science of weight gain and weight loss advances, it is becoming clear that obesity is as much a disease as high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer.

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The Submissions Are In


July 21, 2013

All the submissions are in (over 70 in total) and deciding on the finalists has been agonizing. There were so many candidates, who truly need and deserve this surgery. Stories of discrimination, the impact of their weight on personal relationships, the frustration with the lack of success on countless diet programs and the fear of a shortened life were present in nearly every application. We will be releasing some of these essays in the weeks to come in an effort to draw attention to the continued acceptance of discrimination against obese people, the unfairness of insurance policies that exclude coverage for bariatric surgery and to help disprove the public’s perception that obesity is not a disease, but rather a lifestyle choice.

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The Finalists Are Announced

We are pleased to announce our four finalists for the bariatric surgery that we are jointly sponsoring with Huron Valley Sinai Hospital These four people moved us with their stories and stood out from the over 70 applications we received.

Congratulations to:

Danielle Morris of Novi

Ashley Oakley of Eaton Rapids

Pamela Planitz of Washington, MI

Lisa Konchel of Farmington Hills

These four finalists will meet with Dr. Weiner and then one deserving applicant will be selected to have all expenses covered for their bariatric surgery.

Finalist #1 Danielle Morris

Meet Danielle, the first finalist for the DMC Huron Valley Sinai Hospital Bariatric Surgery Sponsorship.

Finalist #2 Ashley Oakley

Meet Ashley, the second finalist for the DMC Huron Valley Sinai Hospital Bariatric Surgery Sponsorship.

Finalist #3 Pamela Planitz

Meet Pamela, the third finalist for the DMC Huron Valley Sinai Hospital Bariatric Surgery Sponsorship.

Finalist #4 Lisa Konchel

Meet Lisa, the fourth finalist for the DMC Huron Valley Sinai Hospital Bariatric Surgery Sponsorship.

…And The Winner Is…

Ashley’s Essay

I am not applying for this just because it’s free. This is something that will save my life!

For the last three years, I’ve been fighting with my insurance company, UHC, to cover this surgery. I appealed their denial with the assistance of my PCP. Still, since it’s stated in the policy from my employer that “weight loss” is not covered, it was denied again.

I have dieted: Weight Watchers, on my own, Optium 500 with Sparrow Health Center, the cabbage diet, Atkins, not eating; nothing has been able to keep the weight off.

I don’t let my weight hold me back, but it does. As a child, I was involved in dance while being overweight and I was colorguard captain in high school. I can’t SCUBA, zip line, fly in a hot air balloon, or ride a mule into the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I worry when I’m in a crowded elevator. When I fly, I have to use a seatbelt extension and I still worry about flowing over into the seat next to me.

I’ve been called every fat name you can think of and then some. It’s something that has followed me even into my profession today. I am a sign language interpreter. The Deaf community is blunt. They are visual. Every day I am told: You are fat. You should stop eating. Wow, you’ll never get married if you are fat! I know that shouldn’t affect me, but it does, and I know there is a truth to some of what they are saying. Hey, I’m the 32-year-old fat, single girl.

I am not a lazy person. I am very energetic and I have been involved with many activities. This year, in 2013, I have completed 10-5k’s, 1-10k and the Nike Half Marathon in Washington DC. I am striving to develop healthier habits. I have worked up to walking an 18-minute mile pace and purchased a Vitamix machine.

At the end of the day, the weight that I am carrying is taking a toll on my body. It’s slowly killing me. My heart works overtime. My lungs work harder even while I’m sleeping. I want to be able to have a family, to be able to have children of my own. I know the stress my entire family goes through worrying about my Dad being morbidly obese. It’s in my genes. This is the hand that God dealt me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the person I am. I feel that being overweight doesn’t define me, it motivates me to work harder. I’m not embarrassed of who I am. I don’t like it when people put themselves down or let their weight be an excuse for not living.

I’m ready for this surgery: mentally, physically, and emotionally. I have sound support from friends and family. I know this surgery will work. I’ve seen first-hand how it changed my sister’s life.

I know I need this surgery to save my life!

Ashley’s First Appointment

Nov. 20, 2013 – After finding out that she was the winner of the bariatric sponsorship surgery, Ashley meets with Dr. Weiner to talk about the upcoming surgery.

Ashley’s Gastric Bypass – Day of Surgery

March 1, 2014 – Ashley was offered a gastric bypass surgery by Dr. Matthew Weiner and Huron Valley Sinai Hospital because she did not have insurance coverage. This video shows her on the day or surgery.