Wareham, MA – The Southcoast Center for Weight Loss celebrated its 15th anniversary Saturday, June 1, with a reunion attended by more than 250 bariatric patients.

Since the program started in 2004, more than 7,500 bariatric procedures have been performed and over 600,000 pounds have been lost. The event promoted healthy living, while recognizing the courage and determination required to overcome the disease of obesity.

“Great bariatric surgery requires great patient dedication,” said Dr. Rayford Kruger, physician-in- chief of surgery for Southcoast Health and the program’s founder. “Your courage and drive for a healthier life have made your surgery a success. We celebrate you today.”

The festivities were held at the Southcoast Center for Weigh Loss, where bariatric patients offered their weight loss stories to those in attendance. Dan O’Brien, of Scituate, who appears in TV commercials and print ads for the program, was a featured speaker. He lost 160 pounds after surgery and is currently engaged to be married.

“People ask me ‘why don’t you get paid to be such an advocate for the program?’ And I tell them I don’t need payment. My life is payment enough.” he said. “If my story can help save one person’s life then it will have served its purpose.”

Jo-Ann Silva, of Acushnet, said she decided on surgery four and half years ago after she was unable to complete a hike with her daughters in the mountains of Utah’s Moab desert. She was half-way along the trail when she turned around accompanied by one of her daughters. Her other daughter went on to complete the hike.  “It broke my heart that I prevented [my daughter] from having a once in a life time experience,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Not only did I change my mind to make life better for myself, but I wanted to be a role model for my girls.”

Silva lost 150 pounds and as a result overcame diabetes, orthopedic issues, and high blood pressure. She was also able to complete her hike with her daughters a year after her surgery.

She continues to find inspiration from fellow patients in the program’s support groups, and she provides inspiration herself. “I’ve had multiple people come up to me and ask me about my journey and I am glad to be that inspiration,” she said.

Southcoast Center for Weigh Loss is a comprehensive program that includes surgical and a non- surgical courses of weight loss treatment, complete with nutritional and emotional health counseling. For more information or to sign up for a free informational seminar please visit www.southcoast.org/weightloss

About Southcoast Health

Southcoast Health is a not-for-profit, charitable organization and the largest provider of primary and specialty care in the region, serving communities in Rhode Island and across Southeastern Massachusetts. Southcoast Health was named to Newsweek’s World’s Best Hospitals 2019 inaugural list. Out of the 2,743 considered hospitals in the US, only 250 earned this recognition. Southcoast Hospitals Group ranked 162. With a network of more than 600 physicians, hospitalists and mid-level practitioners, Southcoast Health is comprised of three acute care hospitals — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, and Tobey Hospital in Wareham, and also provides behavioral health services in partnership with Acadia at Southcoast Behavioral Health in Dartmouth.  Southcoast Health’s seven Urgent Care Centers, two Centers for Cancer Care, visiting nurse association and numerous additional ambulatory facilities offer convenience and access to services for more than 724,000 residents in 33 communities covering over 900 square miles in Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. With more than 7,500 employees, Southcoast Health is the largest employer in Southeastern Mass., and the 18th largest employer in the Commonwealth according to the Boston Business Journal. Southcoast Health is proud of our mission of providing high quality affordable healthcare to our patients and proud of our tradition of eliminating the barriers that prevent access to care. More information is available online at www.southcoast.org.