Patient Story
The BariGirls

"The surgery was a simple first step to a new way of living." - Linda Donaldson

Linda Donaldson and her daughter, Kiley Williams-Bowls, are on a mission. After losing a combined total of 305lbs, with the help of bariatric weight-loss surgery, the mother/daughter duo are helping other bariatric patients navigate the waters of their new healthy lives. But it’s been a long journey to get here.

In 2009, when Kiley underwent her sleeve gastrectomy procedure, she weighed 320lbs. At 22 years old, with a family history of diabetes and heart disease, she knew she needed to make some serious changes for her overall health and lifetime longevity. Her successful surgery with Brent Sorensen, MD, at the Saint Luke’s Center for Surgical Weight Loss resulted in Kiley’s remarkable and rapid weight loss of 170lbs over the next 11 months. A new attitude, a new outlook, and a new dedication to her healthy lifestyle took over, and Kiley was a changed woman.

Five years later, after an unsuccessful attempt with a different weight loss procedure, Linda was still struggling with her weight. At 285lbs, she was eager to have results like her daughter. And, as a Type 1 diabetic, she knew the consequences of a heavier weight would lead to serious problems in her future. But the adjustable gastric band (Lap-Band) that had been placed years before was not working. In fact, it was only making her sick. She knew exactly where she had to go.

In February of 2014, Dr. Sorensen helped Linda—just like he had helped Kiley before. He removed Linda’s Lap-Band and performed a gastric bypass procedure. The result? Rapid weight loss, increased energy, and a dramatic reduction in her need for insulin.

With the help of Dr. Sorensen and the entire team at the Saint Luke’s Center for Surgical Weight Loss—including a dietician and physiologist, who provides exercise guidance and support—Linda and Kiley’s weight loss journeys have been a resounding success. In their new life, they have educated themselves on proper nutrition and exercise and are now helping their clients through their own journeys—from providing emotional support about the decision to have the surgery, to walking the grocery aisles and cleaning out pantries.

“Sometimes, family and friends don’t know how to be supportive in the right way,” Linda, an executive assistant at the University of Kansas Medical Center, explains. “They mean well, but they tell you to just lose weight by watching what you eat. But that’s not always enough. Talking to people who have had long-term success with weight loss surgery, and learning from their experience, is how you get better and smarter about this new life.”

Today, The BariGirls (as Linda and Kiley now call themselves) are committed to expanding their influence and helping bariatric patients everywhere understand the rules and tools of healthy weight loss after bariatric surgery. Kiley, an office assistant, focuses her passion on healthy eating and exercise—creating recipes and providing fitness tips to their followers and clients. The dynamic mother/daughter duo have also expanded their reach beyond just bariatric patients, often appearing on local TV news programs to share healthy recipes and cooking tips, and inspiring others with the message that true lifestyle change really is possible.

Looking back, what does Linda want others to know about the surgical weight loss journey?

“The surgery itself isn’t the scary monster I thought it was. There are people who are afraid of what they don’t know, and they expect the worst. I did. But the surgery was a simple first step to a new way of living. In the end I learned it wasn’t scary at all; it was the best decision I ever made.”

Find The BariGirls online at www.barigirls.com as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Visit the Saint Luke’s Center for Surgical Weight Loss online to meet our team of surgeons, educate yourself the variety of surgical weight loss options provided through the program, and take the first step of your own journey by watching the complete online informational seminar, The Journey to Health or register for an upcoming in-person seminar.