Patient cleared for kidney transplant after risky weight loss surgery

Todd Gomez, pre op (Source: OLOL)
Todd Gomez, pre op (Source: OLOL)
Dr. Kenneth Kleinpeter (Source: OLOL)
Dr. Kenneth Kleinpeter (Source: OLOL)

DENHAM SPRINGS, LA (WAFB) - A Denham Springs man who was deemed ineligible for a kidney transplant is now on the waiting list. A rare surgery done by a doctor at Our Lady of the Lake has made it possible. It's the first time the procedure has been done in Louisiana under these circumstances.

Patient, Todd Gomez, gets a kick out of just watching his 2-year-old granddaughter, Sophia, play in his backyard. Six months ago, something as simple as that wasn't so easy. The 53-year-old weighed 305 pounds. He's living with chronic kidney failure. Doctors told him he was too overweight for a transplant.

"It was scary," said Gomez.

Gomez says he tried to lose the weight on his own. He lost 50 pounds, but said he could not keep it off. The nine hours of treatments each day was taking a toll on his body.

"I knew I wasn't going to be able to be on dialysis forever, and the longer you are on dialysis, the shorter time frame for your new kidney once you get it," said Gomez.

Gomez says doctors told him weight loss surgery was a possibility, but because he is a Peritoneal Dialysis (PD) patient, the placement of his catheter made the procedure risky. Dr. Kenny Kleinpeter with The Surgeons Group of Baton Rouge at Our Lady of the Lake was willing to give it a shot.

"Their [renal patients] electrolyte abnormalities can come up and things like calcium levels, potassium levels, sodium levels, those things take a lot of work to keep them in a normal range in a renal failure patient because the kidney is responsible for the regulation of all these elements," said Kleinpeter.

Dr. Kleinpeter performed a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy on Gomez. During surgery, the doctor removes a portion of the stomach and replaces it with a new, smaller one around the size of a banana. It limits the amount of food you can eat by making you feel fuller after eating smaller amounts. Six months later, Gomez is down nearly 70 pounds and is now a candidate for a kidney transplant.

"We've had such a good experience with him such that my communication relationship with the nephrology team here in town will be an avenue to help future patients like him," said Kleinpeter.

Gomez is looking forward to getting his new kidney and doing something he hasn't been able to do since his diagnosis: go on vacation. "Grand canyon. That's the first place we want to go," said Gomez.

Todd's cousin has offered to be a donor. She is having tests done to see if she's a match.

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