Sunset Park

Brooklyn man tells how he went from couch potato to 5K runner

He credits NYU Lutheran’s Weight Loss Surgery Institute

May 8, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Patients from the hospital’s Weight Loss Surgery Institute are pictured with Juan Batista, NYU Lutheran program nutritionist (left) and Dr. Corneliu Vulpe, one of the lead bariatric surgeons at NYU Lutheran. Photo courtesy NYU Lutheran

Three years ago, Donald Stankalis weighed 440 pounds and was a confirmed couch potato. But now, after losing an astonishing 250 pounds, he is no longer a slave to his couch. In fact, he’s so physically fit, he runs in 5K races and plans to take part in half-marathons.

“Now, I am 190 pounds!” Stankalis said as he held up a wide-length pant leg and sported a beaming smile during a presentation at an open house at the NYU Lutheran Weight Loss Surgery Institute.

Stankalis, a Brooklyn resident, shared his story at the institute on April 28 as part of the facility’s fourth open house event.

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A group of local residents listened intently to Stankalis’ presentation about how weight loss surgery and a determination to live a healthier lifestyle changed him.

“The surgery is a tool. It’s really how you use it to your benefit,” he told the audience.

Stankalis told the audience that he now enjoys entering races and plans to run in the Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon and in the Walt Disney World Half Marathon next January.

Stankalis is living proof that achieving a healthier lifestyle is within anyone’s reach, according to officials at NYU Lutheran, the hospital at 150 55th St. in Sunset Park. Formerly Lutheran Medical Center, the hospital entered into an affiliation with NYU Langone Medical Center last month.

Stankalis was one of seven patients who shared their experiences at the institute’s open house.

Residents who attended the open house also received an introduction to the program from a team of bariatric specialists in the fields of general medicine, pulmonology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, physical therapy and nutrition.

The presentation covered statistics on obesity, its causes and treatment, indications and types of bariatric surgeries and program benefits, hospital officials said. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session.

The statistics of obesity are troubling: 34.9 percent of U.S. adults, more than a third, are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The estimated medical costs for treating obesity related illnesses in 2008 topped $140 billion. Conditions related to obesity include heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Dr. Olga Filipova, medical director of NYU Lutheran Family Health Centers Adult Medicine Department, said the NYU Lutheran weight loss program is about much more than just shedding pounds. 

“The program is about becoming stronger, more confident and doing the right thing. We want to help you change your life, help you live healthier, happier and longer for you and your loved ones. We don’t take care of pounds; we take care of human beings,” Filipova said.

NYU Lutheran’s Weight Loss Surgery Institute was named a bariatric surgery center of excellence by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons and is a New York State-designated bariatric surgery center for Medicaid in New York City.

For more information on NYU Lutheran’s Weight Loss Surgery Institute visit

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