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Six hundred pound man undergoes life-saving surgery

Shirley Hawkins | 1/14/2009, 5 p.m.

Los Angeles, CA - Marshall Ford, 39, loves to rap.
Known as Massive on stage, the rotund rapper and father of three loves to write songs and spit rhymes on the mike. His skills have been showcased with some of the most noted recording artists in the business. Ive worked with Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Roger Troutman of Zapp, Mellow Man Ace, Nino Brown, and Sen Dog from Cypress Hill, said Ford, who grew up in Watts.
But Ford said that he had always grappled with his weight, which before his life changing surgery had climbed to 649 pounds.
Ive been heavy all my life, admitted Ford. As a kid, I ate lots of junk foodsodas, cup cakes and candy.
Ford said that his bad eating habits were formed in childhood. One of the ways people showed they cared in our family was to say, Here, let me fix you a meal or Here, go and get yourself a soda. It was a way of communicating without saying, I love you.
Even though his weight continued to spiral out of control, Ford said that he liked to cook and was hooked on savory dishes and tasty treats. I liked to eat stewed chicken, beans and rice, and lemon, chocolate and cheese cakes. And of course, I was raised on a lot of soul food like chitlins, pigs feet, greens, and corn bread.
As the pounds continued to pile on, Ford found it more and more difficult to pursue his daily activities. He grappled with heavy breathing and perspiration.
Ford said that his circumstances changed the day his boss, Lou Pena, spotted him walking to the office one morning. He thought my car had broken down, recalled Ford. He stopped me and asked, Are you okay? He didnt realize that I was trying to get some exercise.
Pena asked Ford if he had ever thought about undergoing bariatric surgery. He told me to investigate the surgical procedures available for losing weight and to get back to him. I went online and began checking out different programs.
Ford said that he found a company called California Thin located in Hawaiian Gardens, Calif. I called and I started talking to a woman named Michelle. She really seemed like she cared and took the time to talk with me.
When Ford told his boss about California Thin, they submitted a request for medical insurance to cover the surgery. The initial price of the surgery was $30,000, but unfortunately my insurance company turned down my request, recalled Ford.
Fords boss surprised him when he announced that he would pay $23,000 of the cost for the operation. Then Dr. Naim, who was to do the surgery, said he would pay the remaining cost. It was truly a blessing.
The surgery seemed to come just in time. When Dr. Naim saw me he informed me that I was way past the morbid obesity stage, that I was super obese, said Ford. According to the doctors, I wasnt expected to live long.
Ford was placed on a liquid diet two weeks before the operation. I couldnt eat solid food, I could only drink liquids, said Ford. I also had to go through a psychiatric evaluation, a blood test, and a cardiology test to see if I was stable enough to have the surgery. I also consulted with a nutritionist.
Ford revealed that he was a bit apprehensive when he was admitted to Tri City Hospital in Hawaiian Gardens on Nov. 25. When they wheeled me into the operating room, I kept thinking, I hope I dont die because I had previously undergone three hernia surgeries. Each time you have surgery, you never know if you are going to come out alive.
Before the operation, Ford was placed under anesthesia. During the operations, they cut a section of my stomach out and shaped the remaining part into something that looks like a small banana, said Ford, who said the four-hour surgery was performed the same day he was admitted to the hospital.
Dr. Joseph Naim said that the sleeve gastrectomy surgery is a relatively new procedure. The results are much better than the old lap band procedure, and it is safer than a gastric bypass, he pointed out. We do a keyhole incision where 80% of the stomach is removed. But because it is done through a keyhole incision in the body, the recovery is very fast and very safe.
A week after surgery, Ford stated that he was back to work and that 46 pounds have already melted away. Right now, I eat a lot of soup and soft foods, but no bread, rice or potatoes. I eat very small portions, said Ford, who said he suffered no complications after the surgery.
Ford said that once the weight drops off, he is looking forward to participating in regular activities. I just want to go back and ride bikes again, to perform in shows and get on stage and not worry about the platform falling off.
Dr. Naim said, I think hell do very well. This surgery will give him the confidence to be a successful musician, and excel in all other aspects of his life. Hopefully now the only massive thing about Marshall will be his career.