Above photo: General Surgeons Dr. Sharadh Sampath, Dr. Ekua Yorke and Dr. Nam Nguyen (from left to right) practice within the Richmond Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program at Richmond Hospital, one of two provincial bariatric surgery sites in the province.
The Richmond Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program – and the surgeons involved in it, Drs. Sharadh Sampath, Ekua Yorke and Nam Nguyen – is slowly changing the perception of obesity both in the medical community and across the public domain, one success story at a time.
“We're working to help people understand that this isn't a simple 'your fault' problem and instead is a very complex disease process that is the source for the many of the other serious diseases that we face as a medical community," said Dr. Sharadh Sampath, director of the provincial program that based from Richmond Hospital. “It's a slow process, but every time a patient's family, friends and physicians see the progress after surgery, I believe we're shifting perception in the right direction."
In his editorial in the April issue of the BC Medical Journal, Dr. Sampath echoes the above sentiment. He states further that obesity was only recognized as a disease by the Canadian Medical Association in 2015, despite being one of the most costly and devastating epidemics of our time.
Dr. Sampath calls obesity “the mother" of many other diseases and routinely watches obesity-related conditions disappear during a patient's post-surgical period. “Diabetes and hypertension can go into remission within weeks. Weight loss is generally profound. People regain the ability to move, work and enjoy full/productive lives. These changes are hard to ignore."
The BC Medical Journal's focus on bariatrics comes a few years after a single article on the topic garnered much interest from the medical community. Dr. Sampath attributes the interest to the fact that little is taught in medical schools about the subject of obesity management and bariatric surgery.
Dr. Sampath's introduction to bariatric surgery came early in his surgical career. “During my training, I remember assisting on a gastric bypass in a young woman (in her 30s) with insulin-dependent diabetes secondary to her obesity. By the time she left hospital a few days later, she was off of all of her insulin," he recalled. “This type of success is actually very common, and I can't think of another surgery that I can do as a general surgeon that can eliminate multiple diseases at once while giving patients a new lease on life. It's the reason I went into this field."
The Richmond Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program is one of two provincial sites that specializes in treatment of the disease of obesity. The second site is located in Victoria, at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
The Richmond bariatric program is currently located at 8100 Granville in Richmond. In early 2019 it will relocated to VCH Richmond's new Community Health Access Centre, located at 7671 Alderbridge Way.
Read Dr. Sharadh Sampath's guest editorial about bariatric surgery