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Patient Stories

Evan Kuller: A Man on the Move

Dr. Nemr tells me what I need to hear and what I need to do to keep the weight off. I'm so thankful to him because he changed my life. I love the guy!

Evan Kuller with his bike

When Evan Kuller, 52, fell at work in March 2021, he aggravated the knee replacement he had received in 2014. But his orthopedist told him the chances of a successful surgical repair were slim, given Evan's excessive weight. It was just the impetus he needed to make some changes in his life. After undergoing weight loss surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Evan's weight plummeted from an all-time high of 413 pounds to less than 190 on his 5' 7" frame. Today he's feeling better, eating healthier, and riding his new bike — and he finally had his injured left knee fixed successfully. 

A maintenance worker for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who lives in Brooklyn, Evan was surprised when his orthopedist told him to lose a significant amount of weight before he could have knee surgery. He had done it once before, losing 100 pounds — but he put the weight back on. A buddy of his had weight loss surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist performed by Rabih A. Nemr, MD, and dropped 125 pounds in six months. "I always thought weight loss surgery was like cheating because I put the weight on myself. No one forced me to do it," said Evan. "For years I overindulged and overindulged. But there comes a point in your life when you have to say, enough is enough." Evan had reached that point.

He visited Dr. Nemr and the weight management team in May 2021. "When I told Dr. Nemr I thought I was cheating by having weight loss surgery, he told me, 'I'm only giving you a tool.' It was up to me to change my way of thinking and eating," said Evan. Over the next seven months, he met with other doctors to assess his overall health. Along the way, he had a sleep test and learned he had sleep apnea. He also had high blood pressure. His team counseled him to start losing weight before the surgery to improve his chances of a healthy outcome.

He lost 84 pounds and was 329 pounds by the time of his procedure on December 13, 2021. Dr. Nemr performed a robotic sleeve gastrectomy, which restricted the amount of food Evan could consume. For the first 10 days, he could only take in liquids, such as shakes. Gradually he progressed to soft foods and eventually a regular diet. The weight started to come off. He had lost so much weight that when he went for his six-month follow-up visit, Dr. Nemr didn't recognize him at first.

Evan experienced other health benefits following his surgery. His sleep apnea improved and he no longer snores at night. His blood pressure declined and he was able to reduce the hypertension medications he was taking. Today he eats small meals and finds he is most comfortable eating very few starchy carbs, opting instead for salads, chicken, and turkey.

He takes long walks, bought a bicycle, and started lifting weights. He's even considering training for bodybuilding contests designed for men over 50. "It's a goal!" Evan contended. Surgery to repair the damaged ligaments in his left knee finally took place in October 2022, and he's been diligent with his physical therapy. "Is it an easy journey? Absolutely not. Sometimes it's still kind of a struggle," he reflected. "I had to be on board and give it 100%. But I'm eating better and exercising, and my new routine is getting easier as the months go by."

He credits Dr. Nemr and the staff in the weight management program at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist for supporting his journey. "Everyone there really listens to me. I feel like I have a friendship with them now," he explained. "Dr. Nemr tells me what I need to hear and what I need to do to keep the weight off. I'm so thankful to him because he changed my life. I love the guy!"