Bariatric Surgery Gives Husband and Father Hope for the Future   

Bariatric Surgery Gives Husband and Father Hope for the Future

Patient, Jim Bleemer, wearing a Mets jersey, sitting in a Mets branded chair.

June 13, 2023

When Jim Bleemer was getting knee surgery, some words from his surgeon stuck with him in a major way. The surgeon told him that people of his weight don’t often live to an old age. 

Jim had yet to hit age 50, but it finally hit him that because of his weight, he might not be around to see his children become adults and start their own families.

A corporate vice president who manages 150 salespeople, Jim treasured his time with his wife and coaching his teen’s baseball and football teams. Over the years, as his schedule became more hectic, he increasingly relied on fast food for meals. Along with weight gain came associated problems, including pre-diabetes, hypertension, aches and pains, and embarrassing struggles like needing a seat belt extender for airplanes.

At 319 pounds, Jim was potentially facing a future of life-threatening medical problems.

Searching for the Best Option 

Jim researched his options for weight-loss surgery and came across bariatric surgeon Alexander Abkin, M.D., at JFK University Medical Center. Dr. Abkin’s previous patients raved about how direct and honest he was about what weight-loss surgery could do for them, as well as their responsibilities in the weight-loss process. Jim knew Dr. Abkin was the right doctor for him.

After discussing various options, Jim chose a laparoscopic minimally invasive sleeve gastrectomy. This procedure involves four small incisions (the largest about 1 inch long) and removes about 70 percent of the stomach, including the area that creates the hormone that makes people feel hungry. 

“Sleeve gastrectomy is the most popular procedure in this country for bariatric weight control,” says Dr. Abkin. “It addresses several problems in one procedure: portion control, hunger mechanism, and reduces the likelihood of postoperative nutritional deficiencies compared to other procedures.”

Before surgery, Jim had appointments with a nutritionist and psychologist, and was cleared for surgery by his primary care doctor. On January 17, 2022, he walked into JFK for his surgery. Because of COVID-19 protocols, family members were not allowed to be with him, but he carried the love and hopes of his family and supportive messages from friends who had experienced the same surgery. He fondly remembers the team members at JFK who, knowing he was alone, went out of their way to help him feel protected and nurtured.

Health Benefits from Weight-loss Surgery

The surgery was a success, and Jim was home the following day. He lost 43 pounds in the first month, and a little more than a year later, his weight is down to 196 pounds. “It’s kind of cool fitting into the same clothes I wore in high school,” Jim says. “The surgery was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Dr. Abkin adds: “Since the surgery, Jim’s health and physical function have improved. He no longer has diabetes, sleep apnea or acid reflux, and his blood pressure now is normal. This is what the surgery is all about: It’s not just that he lost over 120 pounds, but it’s about improving his health. Jim did very well in that regard.”

Dr. Abkin says some people who are struggling with morbid obesity try quick-fix cures, from diets to injections, and frequently have to deal with serious side effects. He often tells them that laparoscopic bariatric surgery is the only proven permanent solution to this problem, and the longer they postpone seeing a bariatric surgeon, the longer it will be until they achieve the healthier body they deserve.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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