At 39 years old, Jeancarlo Danies had a successful career in real estate, a beautiful baby boy, and loving wife, but he was struggling with obesity. Danies weighed 431 pounds, and he was suffering from sleep apnea – a serious disorder that causes your breathing to stop and start while you are sleeping.
“I could barely walk, and always had lower back pain,” he said. “My wife would tie my shoes because I couldn’t reach. I had to sleep with a CPAP machine to help me breathe, but I would take it off because I didn’t want my son to see me wearing it.”
Danies health issues made him shutdown emotionally, and had lost sense of hope. He no longer wanted to work or be seen in public, and would stay home all the time.
In early 2019, he learned via social media that two high school friends had died of a heart attack. In fear of the same happening to him, Danies told his wife he wanted to see a cardiologist.
“My wake-up call was when I saw the cardiologist,” he said. “He bluntly told me that if I didn’t do anything about my weight I had about a year left to live. He urged me to undergo the gastric sleeve if I wanted my kid to have a father.”
At first, Danies felt hesitant to move forward with surgery because he received a Lap-Band procedure as part of a research study in 2003, and suffered severe complications. The band perforated his stomach and caused food to stay in his esophagus. The unsuccessful surgery lead him to develop scar tissue.
Despite his concerns, Danies booked an appointment with Moises Jacobs, MD, FACS, medical director of the Bariatric Surgery Center at Jackson South.
“When I met Jeancarlo, he was nearly 500 pounds,” Dr. Jacobs said. “He had no other choice because his cardiologist told him he was going to die. He was willing to do anything to lose the weight.”
Dr. Jacobs first ordered an endoscopy to see the extent of the scar tissue in Danies’ stomach. He then performed a three-hour surgery that allowed for Danies to start his weight-loss journey.
“We took out the band, repaired the scar tissue as much as we could, and performed the gastric sleeve,” Dr. Jacobs said. “Surgery was difficult because of the anatomy of his stomach, but overall, the results were successful.”
Danies said his son was his biggest motivation to start losing the weight.
“I started walking around my neighborhood because I was still too heavy to get on a treadmill,” he said. “I then started a circuit training class, and I was happy to see my body changing.”
Danies was so focused on transforming his body, and would look up workout videos and recipes online.
“I once came across a YouTube video of a man who said he had lost 200 pounds, and had transformed into a body builder,” he said. “I became curious and came across a bodybuilding federation that had different divisions, including one that focused on drastic weight-loss transformation.”
Danies was up for the challenge, and registered for bodybuilding competitions in Atlanta and Miami. Once he won the competition in Atlanta, he automatically qualified for the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) World Championship, Transformation Division.
In 2021, Danies won first place, becoming the WBFF World Champion of Transformation.
“I remember seeing my kid and my wife jumping up and down,” he said. “I remember they were trying to give me the trophy, but I was so focused on my son and kept yelling ‘I did this for you.’”
Danies, who used to wear a size 5X shirt and 58 in pants, has lost a total of 222 pounds, and has kept it off since he began his journey four years ago.
“He really changed his life. Our part on average takes an hour, the rest is really up to the patient,” Dr. Jacobs said. “Jeancarlo is by far the most unique patient I’ve ever had. He truly changed his story.”
The now 43-year-old is grateful to his medical team at Jackson South, including Dr. Jacobs.
“Thanks to Dr. Jacobs and everything I’ve done, I’ve been able to get this far,” Danies said. “During this process, I’ve gone from buying tickets for two plane seats and getting kicked out of Disney rides because I was too big, to transforming my life and being the healthy father my son deserves.”