Life Transformer dr. helmut schreiber0001

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Life Transformer dr. helmut schreiber0001

  1. 1. ilEDICL H.LL {)F Fvxn: I:LH'CTI-T Life Transformer By CHRISTOPHER JOHNSTON hen Dr. Helmut Schreiber joined Schreiber adds that the recent discov- fathers of modern surgery. Zollinger W MetroHealth Medical Center as an attending surgeon in 1975, he could have easily entered a distin- ery of ghrelin, a hormone that causes hunger, lends additional credence to the procedure from a scientific perspective. A helped shape Schreiber as a surgeon and drove him to achieve an award for distin- guished services as a student, he says. Yet, guished career in gastrointestinal surgery. study published last year in the New Zollinger, renowned as a tyrant to his res- Instead, he chose to pursue a little-known, England Journal of Medicine proved that idents, also prompted Schreiber to depart barely respected specialty called bariatrics, bariatric or gastric bypass surgery signifi- Columbus and take a residency position a surgical procedure that shrinks the stom- cantly reduces the hormone's production at University Hospitals of Cleveland. achs of morbidly obese people. by shrinking the stomach to the size of a At UH, Schreiber met pioneering It was a lonely choice. Soon after his thumb, thus reducing stimulation of the bariatric surgeon Dr. Walter Pories, who arrival, the doctor who drew him into the hormone through the stomach lining. was chairman of surgery during his field left Cleveland. Schreiber became a "The surgery has gotten a lot of public- residency. Pories drew him into the spe- minority of one, promoting these opera- ity lately as a physiological operation, not. cialty and invited Schreiber to stay at tions to radically improve lives of individ- just a mechanical operation," he explains. MetroHealth Medical Center as an uals suffering under the severe physical, "Now, we can show that it doesn't just attending surgeon and faculty member, emotional and societal pressures that force you to eat less food because you which he did from 1975 until 1981. When accompany obesity. have a small pouch for a stomach." Pories departed to become chairman of Three decades later, Schreiber is recog- Schreiber compares the impact of surgery at East Carolina Medical School, nized as a pioneer in an exploding field bariatric surgery to that of the coronary Schreiber remained as the only faculty that has hospitals throughout the country bypass 40 years ago. Similar to the people member promoting bariatric surgery. scrambling to accommodate the demand saved from heart disease since then, this Another of his mentors at UH, the late for bariatric surgery. Today, morbid obe- surgical option offers a weapon to fight Dr. William Holden, inspired Schreiber's sity is second only to smoking as the lead- obesity and the diseases such as diabetes, love for teaching, which led him to accept ing cause of preventable death in the sleep apnea and high blood pressure that the task of resurrecting a struggling resi- United States, killing more than 250,000 accompany it. dency program at the then Huron Road people annually. Almost 59 million adult "For the first time, there is a viable, Hospital in the 1980s. Schreiber left to Americans (31 percent) are obese, which legitimate procedure that can help some assume a similar role at St. Luke's Medical is double the number from two decades of these people who would otherwise Center until 1997, when he became med- ago, according to a study by the Centers have no options," he says. ical director for the Cleveland Center for of Disease Control and Prevention. Schreiber's family immigrated to Bariatric Surgery at St. Vincent. Moreover, the number of bariatric proce- America from Germany in 1956, when he Schreiber recently debuted an innova- dures performed rose by 40 percent last was 14. In Europe, they had bounced tive stomach-marking procedure for year, to 80,000, and is expected to reach among five different displaced-persons bariatric patients so that, should they ever 120,000 this year, according to the con- camps for two years after fleeing the require other abdominal surgeries, the sulting firm Frost & Sullivan. Communist regime of their home country, surgeon would know that their anatomy At St. Vincent Charity Hospital, where Yugoslavia. had been altered by the gastric bypass. Schreiber is director of surgery, his team As a student at Kent State University in Additionally, he recently received a com- performs approximately 100 bariatric the early 1960s, Schreiber loved the sci- mendation from Mayor Jane Campbell procedures each month. For Schreiber, ences and math, but soon found them to for his tireless efforts to promote having validation is sweet. be "somewhat dry." So, to fulfill his desire two fully trained surgeons in the operat- "I am deeply gratified that the things I to help people, he switched to pre-med. ing room during a bariatric procedure, a have talked about for 28 years have come He was accepted into The Ohio State safety practice that more hospitals have to fruition with the data that's appearing University's medical school in 1966. adopted as the field continues to expand. allover the country to validate what I've There, he met the late Dr. Robert M. He is also an adamant proponent of been working on," he says. Zollinger Sr., considered one of the providing bariatric patients with a com- 10 NOVEMBER 2003 •
  2. 2. ., j I / plete support network to address the zine. The doctor who finished first is a says Unsinger, who now works as an nutritional and psychological elements of Florida surgeon who actually underwent administrative assistant in the bariatric the life-transforming surgery. the surgery himself. "I'm not willing to go department at St. Vincent. "I'm a better "Dr. Schreiber is just a very good per- to that extreme," Schreiber says with a mom to my two boys. I have no more son who is dedicated to the hospital and laugh. (His partner, Dr. Indukumar aches and pains. I'm not embarrassed, to the patients that he serves," says Sr. Sonpal, was No.8 on the list.) and I have more self-esteem, so I'm more Judith Ann Karam, president and CEO of "In addition to their health problems, outgoing and a lot more active." Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health morbidly obese patients are discriminat- When he's not performing his profes- System in Cleveland. "As medical director, ed against in society," Schreiber says. "So sional duties, Schreiber enjoys trout fishing, he ensures that our doctors treat the when you lift that yoke off of their shoul- photography and crafting various inven- whole person, not just provide a technical ders, they are grateful, and it's just tions on the metalworking equipment in surgery, to help them achieve successful remarkable to see the transformation in his basement. He also enjoys spending time weight loss." their lives." with his four children, one of whom is now That holistic approach recently earned Chris Unsinger concurs. After having a neurosurgeon, and his wife of 36 years, the Schreiber national attention, when he the surgery two years ago, her weight mention of whom leads the affable physi- attained the No. 2 rank among 100 plummeted from 298 to 130 pounds. She cian to give one last credit for his success."If prominent physicians in the "Lives also rid herself of her diabetes and high you were to ask me what one person influ- Transformed" category of a survey of blood pressure. enced my career the most, it's got to be my 150,000 patients by Obesity Help maga- "Dr. Schreiber brought me a new life," wife, Helen," he says. PHOTO· DANNY VEGA CLEVELAND 11

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