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Bill Doyle's Story

Bill Doyle

“We often talk about the amazing things NewYork-Presbyterian does for our patients. I wanted to talk about what the hospital does for its own people — our staff.”

The Gift of a Dozen Years

"Soups, stews, and bacon."

Those are the passions of Bill Doyle, certified executive chef at NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital. As delicious as those foods are, it was baking that got Bill into trouble. So much so that over the years, his weight rose to 400 pounds.

"I'm a baker by trade, so that made things tougher," says Bill, 57.

A torn rotator cuff brought him to the attention of NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center orthopedic surgeon Dr. William Levine, who recommended weight loss surgery over shoulder surgery and told Bill it would add 12 years to his life. Dr. Marc Bessler, Director of the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, agreed.

Weight loss surgery changed Bill's life. And likely saved it.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Bill was always a husky child — but he was active. As a younger man, he hunted, fished, competed in martial arts tournaments, and achieved a brown belt in karate. After he married his wife, Donna, in his 20s, he became more sedentary.

"I lost my fervor for staying in shape," explains Bill. He would sometimes go back to a few martial arts classes but would become discouraged because he wasn't at the same level of fitness he had previously been, so he would stop going. Combined with a full-time job that requires food preparation, his weight steadily grew over the next 30 years. He also developed Type 2 diabetes.

When he met with Dr. Bessler in late 2016, he learned he had several options. He chose sleeve gastrectomy, now the most common weight loss operation in the United States. During the minimally invasive surgery — which took place on January 4, 2017 — Dr. Bessler operated through small laparoscopic incisions to remove three-quarters of Bill's stomach and reduce its size to the shape of a banana or "sleeve," restricting the amount of food he can eat.

He stayed in the hospital one night and went home to several weeks of eating pureed foods. "The doctors, nurses, and everyone in the hospital were phenomenal," says Bill, whose own work team is responsible for teaching weight loss surgery patients how to eat after the operation.

Today, he is 150 pounds lighter and knows when to stop eating, and his diabetes has disappeared.

"I went from gorging myself to being satisfied with being sated," he notes. "I have an auto cut-off switch. When my body says 'I've eaten enough food,' I stop."

He still enjoys many of his favorite foods, but eats a much smaller volume. He and Donna enjoy hiking, bike riding, and walking their three Labrador retrievers near their Upper Greenwood Lake, New Jersey home. "I did this for myself but also for her, because I want us to be able to grow old together," Bill adds.

When it came time to tell his story, Bill jumped at the chance. He had been inspired by two other NewYork-Presbyterian Allen Hospital employees who had weight loss surgery, and he has become an inspiration for others.

"We often talk about the amazing things NewYork-Presbyterian does for our patients," Bill notes. "I wanted to talk about what the hospital does for its own people — our staff. I'm happy to share my story."