NewStart patient, Cherie Evans, poses with her family.Cherie Evans’ road to motherhood took some bumps and twists and turns. But the 32-year-old resident of Angleton, Texas, looks back on her journey with gratitude. For in her quest to give birth to a new life, she enriched—and potentially saved—her own.

Evans battled infertility for 10 years, from the time she suffered a miscarriage in 2011. “My doctor said without losing weight, my chance of ever getting pregnant was less than 20%,” she says. “That’s when I finally decided to take action.”

While infertility was her main reason for deciding to shed the excess pounds she’d been carrying since high school, it wasn’t her only reason. “I could barely get up the stairs to walk up to my floor without getting winded,” she says. “I had been diagnosed with fatty liver. I had really bad heartburn. And diabetes runs in my family, so I wanted to get ahead of that.”

"Just get over your fears and do it."

Evans had been considering bariatric surgery for weight loss for years but was afraid. “My cousin finally sat me down and said, ‘You’ve been talking about this forever. Just get over your fears and do it.’”

The next day, Evans made an appointment with board-certified general surgeon Melissa Felinski, DO, assistant professor of surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston. Dr. Felinski is affiliated with Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital.

Excess Weight Can Impact Fertility

During the initial consultation, Dr. Felinski discussed Evans’ goals, including her desire to become pregnant. “A lot of my female patients come in for infertility,” says Dr. Felinski. “Their excess weight interferes with their menstrual cycles and their ability to ovulate. Patients tend to be more fertile after surgery.”

Dr. Felinski recommended gastric bypass surgery, which, she explained, would help Evans rapidly lose weight and possibly increase her chances of becoming pregnant. She also told Evans the surgery would likely alleviate her heartburn and reduce or eliminate her chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Minimally Invasive Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery is performed laparoscopically via small incisions through which the surgeon uses specialized instruments and a tiny camera. The surgeon creates a small stomach pouch then attaches a section of the small intestine directly to the pouch. This allows food to bypass most of the stomach and the first section of small intestine, which decreases the number of calories absorbed. The rerouting of the food stream also produces changes in gut hormones that promote satiety and suppress hunger.

In August 2018, Dr. Felinski performed the surgery at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land. Within three hours, Evans was up and walking. The next day, she was discharged home. Within two weeks, she was back at work.

After a planned hiatus in her infertility treatments, Evans was cleared to resume trying to get pregnant. “After their surgeries, these women feel so much better, and they’re ready to go,” says Dr. Felinski. “But we ask them to wait 12 to 18 months after surgery before trying to get pregnant. During their rapid weight loss, they can experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and we want them to be completely healthy during pregnancy.”

In March 2021, Evans gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Quorra Nichole, conceived via in vitro fertilization (IVF). Before she became pregnant, Evans lost about 130 pounds. She says losing weight and getting in shape before her pregnancy gave her the energy she needed to keep up with her toddler. Within a few weeks of giving birth, she was back to her pre-pregnancy weight.

"My only regret - I should have done it sooner."

Evans says she would recommend gastric bypass surgery to anyone struggling to lose a significant amount of weight. “I tell people you can get your life back—take control of your life. And you’ll have so much more energy. I just wish I had done it sooner,” she says.

She and her husband are expecting their second “miracle baby” in May 2023.

Woman looking at herself in the mirror
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