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'Second Shot to Live' After Weight Loss Surgery

January 30, 2022 Posted in: Patients & Providers , Weight Loss Surgery  3 minute read time


David Penix was always “a bigger guy.” He weighed 250 pounds in high school in Harlan County.

“I tried every fad diet out there for years,” he said. “I would lose weight for a little bit. Then I’d stop losing weight and go off the diet and end up gaining more weight than I lost. It was a vicious cycle.”

Three hundred pounds came and went. His feet swelled so much that he was wearing a size 9.5 or 10 shoe, when he previously wore a 7.5. “I accepted that as my new normal and went on,” he said.

Age 30 came and went. “I couldn't weigh myself at home anymore,” said Penix, 33, and now living in Lexington.

He didn’t like going to the doctor because it meant he would have to get on the scales. He couldn’t make it around the grocery store, so he had to rely on his girlfriend to finish the shopping. He works in a prison and found there were times he couldn’t make it to the office. 

“I got really worried I wasn’t going to see 40,” he said.

Just shy of 440 pounds, Penix made the decision to talk with the team at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East.

He had his surgery in February 2020, just a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began and elective surgeries were put on pause.

“They saved my life,” he said of the team at the center. “I’m a completely different person than I was then.”

He lost 180 pounds and was down to 260 by December. His pants size dropped from a 64 to a 46. He started wearing a size XL shirt - something he hadn’t been able to wear since he was 12 years old. He’s able to walk a mile and not be completely out of breath. He’s happier.

David Penix

Penix has lived in Lexington since 2017 and only after surgery did he get the opportunity to explore the city. He went hiking with his mother back home in Harlan County “and it was wonderful.” He’s looking forward to skydiving. There’s a zipline in Harlan that has a weight limit of 250 pounds - he plans on doing that as soon as he sheds another 10 pounds. 

“I’m excited that I’m able to live life,” he said. “I feel like I wasn’t living life before and I feel this is really my second chance to do that.”

And he credits the team at Saint Joseph East.

“The center treated me like a person. They treated me like anybody else,” he said. “That was really important to me … to not be looked down on because of my weight. Not make that scale factor my entire experience.”

He said the center is set up to “accommodate without embarrassment.” The team is always smiling and kind and always willing to talk about what is going on with each patient. That made the Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East “the premiere place to be.”

He also enjoys the support from the patients who have undergone similar procedures through sharing on the private Facebook group.

“I’ve got a whole new lease on life,” Penix said. “I’m able to get out and experience things that I never thought I would be able to experience. It's really my second shot to live. That’s the greatest gift. They gave me my life back.”

David Penix

To learn more about our weight loss surgery program, visit

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