Couple’s love leads to weight-loss surgery

Both had gastric bypass procedure at Sky Ridge in hopes of extending their time together

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A 30-year romance came full circle at Sky Ridge Medical Center with a transformation that began under a doctor’s knife.

Kurt and Mary were high school sweethearts who parted ways to move on to separate lives, with marriages and families that kept them apart for more than two decades.

Kurt was in his mid-40s and divorced when he decided to try to find his long lost love. He knew her maiden name and that she last lived in California. Beyond that, he had little more to share with the private detective he hired to help him reconnect with the woman he never stopped loving.

When he finally found Mary in 2003, he discovered she too was divorced, still carried a torch for him and had, like him, become “morbidly obese,” he said.

Within a year of reconnecting, the two married and began making up for lost time. Since their wedding day, they have lost count of the number of honeymoon trips they have taken.

The only hitch was, with the health issues that came with their weight issues, the clock was ticking away.

“We were looking at seven, eight years together already and knew that in 10 more years, if we didn’t do something, one of us would be gone,” Kurt said, his eyes welling up at the memory. “We had to do something.”

The “something” they opted for was gastric bypass surgery at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree. The drastic measure was not an easy choice, particularly for Mary, who suffered myriad medical conditions resulting in a phobia of doctors and surgical procedures.

But the alternative, to accept a short term of their romance, was not an option. They began the three-month therapy and consultations required by most insurance companies and selected Dr. Frank Chae of the Sky Ridge Medical Center Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. Chae was their first choice because of the welcoming attitude of his office staff, Kurt said.

Kurt’s surgery date was Oct. 11, 2010. He weighed 376 pounds. By the time Mary went in for her surgery on Nov. 1, 2010, Kurt had dropped 50 pounds.

Kurt and Mary participated in the Sky Ridge Medical Center Pants Across Sky Ridge celebration Jan. 26, with a makeover and unveiling at the Sky Ridge runway show. The unveiling was a second for them, following their 2011 holiday reveal to their friends and family, where Kurt’s mother did not recognize her son for several minutes. They asked to keep their last names confidential because they have yet to disclose their surgery choice to friends and family.

To date, the two have lost a combined 336 pounds and, now in their mid-50s, look forward to many more years and many more honeymoons together.

“We didn’t get back together until we were older,” Mary said. “We already knew we only had limited time together. We both bought 10, 20 more years. We both got a buddy, we keep each other in line.”