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Dawn Neal - Gastric Sleeve Testimonial

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Having vertical sleeve surgery with Dr. Joya in Puerto Vallarta changed my life. Before surgery, I weighed 356 pounds and my BMI was 59.2. At only 49 years old, I was on two blood pressure medications, 3 diabetes type II medications, and a statin for high cholesterol. I made the decision to move forward when my physician told me that I would also need another blood pressure medication and insulin.

I have struggled with my weight since age 26 after having my first child. I gained over 100 lbs and never was able to lose it (and keep it off). To be more specific, I had been successful at losing up to 75lbs at a time, but I never maintained it, and after only 4-5 months, I would gain it all back and then some. I would also lose it in very unhealthy ways, and I tried every diet from Weight Watchers to Atkins to Medifast. I would lose it, and gain it all back every single time, and each time, I gained more than I had lost. To add to the high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and out of control diabetes, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, osteoarthritis in my hips, back, and neck, and fibromyalgia. All of these issues were exacerbated by my weight.

My first step in the process was getting confirmation that my insurance covered the procedure, and they said they did. They also quoted coverage to my surgeon’s office. After completing the entire pre-surgery process, the surgeon’s office submitted the preauthorization and my insurance informed them that they had “misquoted me” and I was not covered after all. I was devastated. Little did I know that this was the best thing that could have possibly happened!

I felt determined to get the surgery and immediately started researching other options. I looked at getting my surgery done in the states, but the cost was astronomical – as a single mom, I just could not afford it. I had a coworker tell me about a friend who had her surgery done in Mexico for significantly less money and had had great results. I did a bunch of homework on different organizations, and also got the number for the organization that her friend Kelly had worked with – MedToGo.

I am a person who needs to do A LOT of research before making any decisions, and the idea of going to Mexico for a surgery like this was honestly a little scary. I spoke to Kelly in person, and she could not say enough positive things about MedToGo and Dr. Joya. I decided to make the call. That is when I met Scott McConnell. He was kind, thorough, and patient with me as I grilled him about every possible detail. He encouraged me to research Dr. Joya and MedToGo, which I did. The more I researched, the more confident I felt. Not only did Scott answer all my questions and provide me with all the information I needed, but it was clear that he genuinely cared about my wellbeing, and I didn’t feel alone as I went through the process.

From start to finish, Scott was right there for me. He was great at demystifying the process and not only helped me with scheduling the surgery, but also helped me with finding financing options and complication insurance. He called me before and after I arrived in Puerto Vallarta, and checked up on me after surgery and continued to do so when I returned to the states.

My surgery experience with Dr. Joya far exceeded my expectations. Amerimed Hospital was top flight – again, beyond my expectations! I was even provided with an iPad to communicate with my family in the states. The nurses were caring and professional, and the hospital was beautiful and state of the art. My post operative recovery was fantastic. I was up and walking around within hours of my surgery. I had very minimal pain – more from the gas than from the actual procedure. I spent two days in the hospital, then recovered for three more days beachside in Puerto Vallarta! I was so confident in the process that I went to Mexico by myself and had no problems, although the hospital room was so large it had a whole separate area for a guest/family member to stay comfortably.
It has been 6 months since my surgery and I have lost 76 pounds, and I am averaging about 10lbs per month. Here is what I find the most amazing: I have participated since before surgery in a local bariatric support group, and I have realized that my experience with Dr. Joya was far and away superior. I had no complications after surgery. I have not experienced food sensitivities, pain, dumping, or GERD. Almost all of the folks who had surgery in the states that attend that support group have one or more of those issues. Many of them had post surgical complications. I tease around with them and say, “After surgery, I wondered at times if maybe Dr. Joya had just poked the truncars into me and not actually done the surgery because I felt so good.” Of course, I know he did because for the first time in my entire life, I am not always starving and obsessing about food. I never would have believed that this surgery would not only help me to lose weight, but also to lose that constant state of hunger and food obsession. I haven’t had any problems or sensitivities with any type of food, but I sure eat a whole lot less!

I attribute this to Dr. Joya and his vast experience and skill. The surgeons here have done between 50 and 150 of these procedures – Dr. Joya has done THOUSANDS. So in the end, the combination of working with Scott at MedToGo and having my surgery with Dr. Joya was the best thing that could ever have happened for me and my health. Within two months post surgery, I was off ALL of my prescriptions. Three months post-operative, my doctor said my blood work was “perfect” – cholesterol, blood pressure, and AC1 were all “perfect”. I no longer have sleep apnea, and I am walking 30-45 minutes a day! I can even run…something I have not done in over 20 years!

I would recommend working with Scott and MedToGo without hesitation. He was supportive, informative, and patient. I had a lot of questions and fears. He understood that and worked hard to provide me with everything I needed to feel safe, and he was with me every step of the way. Dr. Joya was incredible and I am thankful that I had him as a surgeon. My only regret is that I did not do this 20 years ago. I have my life back now, and I owe my health and my life to Scott, MedToGo, and Dr. Joya.


Hi Scott! This is Dawn Neal. Today is my 1 year Surgiversary & i was thinking of you. To date, I’ve lost 148lbs! About 50 more to go and doing great!

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My name is Kelly Thigpen. I lived in Oregon when I had the surgery, and I went to Puerto Vallarta and had the surgery at Amerimed Hospital with Dr. Joya, and the surgery was the gastric sleeve, and I had it in November of 2012. My experience with Robert Page and MedToGo was more than I could have anticipated; Robert was there from day 1, giving me step-by-step instructions as to what I needed to do. It was easy. I felt confident and safe in my decision.

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Kelly Thigpen - Gastric Sleeve Testimonial