At 689 Pounds, Dominique Lanoise Loses Her Battle With Obesity

December 11, 2012

At 689 Pounds, Dominique Lanoise Loses Her Battle With Obesity

by Tammy J. Colter, OH Magazine

On January 12, 2010, a massive and catastrophic earthquake struck Haiti killing an estimated 316,000 people.  Dominique Lanoise was one of the lucky survivor's but she was trapped amongst the earthquake debris in a way that most could not imagine.  Weighing almost 500 pounds at the time, It would be three months before Lanoise could be rescued from the island and reunited with her six children in Miami.  A self-proclaimed food addict, Lanoise's weight prevented her from being rescued and evacuated by a commercial plane.  Finally, after much unwanted media attention and with the help from the president of the Dominican Republic, an air force plane used to transport military vehicles and heavy equipment rescued her and flew her to Homestead Air Force base in Florida.  She was thankful and grateful to be safe and to be reunited with her family as she apologized for all the trouble she had caused due to her weight.

Her weight and food addiction plight brought 40-year-old Lanoise to the attention of TLC producers who filmed her fight against obesity for 12 months in a documentary entitled, "600 Pound Mom: Race Against Time which recently aired again on TLC and continues in another episode set to air on December 13th.  A prisoner in her own body, her fight against obesity was chronicled as she struggled to lose the weight needed to be considered for gastric bypass surgery.   Unable to leave her home in Miami, Dr. Oscar Hernandez visited her for a health check and informed her that her bed would eventually be her coffin and where she would die if she did not do something about her weight.

Not willing to operate on Lanoise at her current weight due to the risks involved, Dr. Hernandez and his team, including Dr. Jorge Rabaza, the bariatric surgeon in charge of giving her life-saving surgery, put her on a pre-surgery diet and were hopeful when she began to lose weight and got close to her target surgery weight of 500 pounds. Lanoise had lost 100 pounds in four months.  But when her surgery date arrived and Lanoise was weighed in before doctors would perform the surgery, they were devastated, even heartbroken, to learn that she had gained all the weight back and more.  The doctor's refused to perform the surgery that day.  She had been lying to the doctor's about the foods she was eating, strayed from her diet plan, and had continued eating Haitian foods sprinkling them with a powder that commercials had convinced her would help her to loose the weight she needed.

"She’s gone to town eating, there is no operation at these numbers."  commented Dr. Hernandez.  "It wasn’t a one time slip-up, it was a systematic assassination of her weight loss program."

Dr. Hernandez decided that he needed to have a conference with her daughters, who were her caretakers, bringing her meals and bathing her.  He wanted to be sure they supported what he and his team were doing.  After all, he could not be there 24 hours a day to oversee what Lanoise was eating.  As it turns out, the daughters had mixed emotions about their mother having weight loss surgery.  They wanted to see her walking and free from obesity but were afraid of the risks involved with someone their mom's size.

As the month's went by after the original surgery date was cancelled, Lanoise's weight and food addiction continued to spiral out of control and her weight was at an all time high of 689 pounds.  The doctor's decided that if they did not perform the surgery soon, regardless of her current weight, there would be no life to save.  They performed the weight loss surgery and despite the risks involved, the surgery went well.  Lanoise's stomach was now 90 percent smaller and her hope for a healthy life was alive again.  After her stay at the hospital, Lanoise was was transferred to a rehabilitation center where she stayed for only two days before asking to transfer back home.

Tragically, two weeks after her surgery, Dominique Lanoise lost her race against time and died due to an illness unrelated to the surgery that she had hoped would save her life.  Once again, her doctors, her family, and now many through out the world are heartbroken.  Her struggles with obesity and careful documentation of the challenges she faced touched many lives.  Her obesity started a dialogue and social media banter caught on like wildfire.  Some wrote words of compassion, others elected to try their stand up comedy with cruel, insensitive posts, and a select few tried to play the blame game.  Dominique Lanoise's life had come to matter in a way she never dreamed of.

Lanoise's journey, her fight against obesity has ended.  But the fight against obesity lives on in countless others and through out the community.  We will remember her fight and the fight lost by those who have gone before her.

Rest In Peace Dominique Lanoise

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