Life-changing care from a doctor who listened | Ascension

Life-changing care from a doctor who listened

Through the compassionate, personalized care of his Ascension Michigan medical team, Michael lost weight and finally qualified for his two, life-changing knee replacements.

“My knee pain was a 9 out of 10,” said Michael Brown, orthopedic and weight loss patient at Ascension Michigan. “I couldn’t even shop with my wife at the grocery store, I could hardly walk.” 

Michael went to several doctors looking for relief from his knee pain. While it was determined he had significant arthritis in both knees, time after time he was sent away, being told he needed to lose weight before he could qualify for knee replacement surgery. 

At the time, Michael’s Body Mass Index (BMI) was over 40. According to medical standards, this meant he was morbidly obese. Desperate to lower his BMI, Michael tried several mainstream weight loss regimes, but never had lasting success. His knee pain was getting worse and he was losing hope. 

Then Michael found Dr. Tarek Taha, an orthopedic surgeon at Ascension Michigan. “The very first meeting with Dr. Taha was a turning point for me,” said Michael. “He was so compassionate and said ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get this taken care of for you.’ I’ve never had that from a doctor before.”

Instead of sending Michael away with orders to lose weight, Dr. Taha referred Michael to the Ascension Michigan weight management program

“To bring about the best surgical outcomes, one of the things we focus on in our preoperative assessment is the patient's weight,” said Dr. Taha. 

When a patient is overweight, their body is working harder than it would be at an optimal weight. This takes away from the energy their body can devote to its healing after a surgical procedure, which makes weight a key factor in a patient’s preoperative assessment. 

“Dr. Taha had a conversation with me and explained what needed to be done and why,” said Michael. “I was motivated to lose weight after Dr. Taha explained the benefits to me.” 

While Michael was motivated, he still was skeptical of yet another weight loss program.

“Michael came in very subdued,” said Lisa Guyton, weight management program manager at Ascension St. Mary’s in Saginaw, Michigan. “He wasn’t sure if this was going to be anything he could do or really even wanted to do. And then he met with a dietitian and you could see the light just turn on.” 

“It was incredible,” said Michael. “They don’t say, ‘you can’t have this, you can’t have that’. They tell you, ‘you can have this, here’s what you can do.’ They give you a road map. It was nice to be held accountable and have a guideline that I could go forward the rest of my life with.” 

Over the next six months, Michael lost enough weight to qualify for knee joint replacements. Dr. Taha replaced Michael’s first knee in May 2022 and his second in September 2022. Continuing with his weight management team, by November 2022, Michael lost over 50 pounds!

“After all the years of putting up with that pain, this has been amazing! I feel really good about how things are going right now.” 

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