BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBMA) — It's a gift this Valentines Day for an Oxford couple you can't put a price tag on, their commitment to live a healthier life. Kim and Kenneth Harris have lost a combined 300 pounds. Bariatric surgery helped after diet and exercise weren't enough in their lifelong weight loss battle.
The before and after photos show a remarkable transformation not just in their appearances, but also their physical and mental health.
"We've been married 27 years. Going through this is the best thing we could have done," explained Kim. She hopes by telling their story it will encourage others to make healthy changes.
Kim dropped from 300 pounds to 170 going down seven dress sizes. Kenneth is down from 364 pounds to 180.
The pair had bariatric surgery at Brookwood Medical Center a year apart. They call it a it a catalyst in their transformation. Following surgery patients have to make major diet changes.
They both no longer have sleep apnea. Kim is off cholesterol and blood pressure medications. Gone also are the uncomfortable situations like airplane seats that were too small and safety bars that wouldn't close on amusement park rides.
Bariatric surgeon Dr. Cameron Askew says surgery among family members is pretty common and works well with couples working as a team. "Their whole life is different now, the things they can do," says Dr. Askew.
And now with obesity being a risk factor for COVID Dr. Askew sees more concern about losing weight. Most bariatric patients are women ages 40 to 60 years old. They have a BMI of 40 or higher which is about 100-120 pounds overweight.
Today's surgeries are almost all done minimally invasive with fewer complications. But Dr. Askew cautions this is not a magical fix. There is a big emphasis on education about lifestyle changes.
"It's actually the hardest thing you can do to alter your body and forever change what you can eat and drink the rest of your life," explains Dr. Askew.
For the Harris's there was plenty of motivation: a love for each other and their family. "We have grandchildren, we want to see those pretty grandbabies grow up."
Most major insurance companies will cover bariatric surgery for those who meet the criteria.