By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
As originally published by Mega Doctor News newsprint Edition
Exercise and eating right are the best ways to lose weight. Many people have tried those methods for years, but still can’t lose excess weight — weight that can cause serious health problems. For people in this frustrating situation, weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery) may be an option.
If this is an option that you are contemplating, now there are three board certified surgeons serving the south Texas community’s Bariatric needs; they are Dr. Robert E. Alleyn, Dr. Manish Singh, and Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez. They are part of the team of medical professionals that lead the comprehensive program at the Renaissance Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.
Dr. Manish Singh the Medical Director at the Renaissance Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, is board certified in Advanced Laparoscopic & Bariatric Surgery. He was trained in weight loss surgery at the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
In addition to bariatric surgery, his specialty interests include gastroenterology and general surgery. Dr. Singh has conducted extensive and groundbreaking research on weight-loss surgical procedures and has published multiple articles and book chapters on topics of bariatric and laparoscopic surgery.
Dr. Singh told Mega Doctor News that during his medical school as he was rotating in different specialties of medicine, what struck him the most was surgery. “That was the day that I decided to become a surgeon.” He has been in the Valley barely seven months and Mega Doctor News asked him, how do you like the Valley? “I like it, but more important is that my family loves the Valley,” he said.
He was born in India in Begusarai, Bihar and his father was an engineer in the army that moved him all over the country every four years. Dr. Singh has a brother Navin Singh who is an environmental engineer and has his own consulting office in India.
What convinced you to come to the Valley? “As I was finishing my fellowship I was looking for a place that whatever I do I was going to make a big impact on society,” he said. “I just didn’t want to go to a place where there were a lot of surgeons doing what I was doing.”
He pointed out that he came to visit the Valley and heard of an opportunity at DHR so he decided to stay. “I learned that the one million in population of the Valley, had only been served by two groups of surgeons doing bariatric surgery.” He went on to say that he learned that there were many young people with diabetes. “I felt that this was the place to make the impact with my specialty even more than in the Washington or the New York area,” he said. Dr. Singh moved to the Valley with his wife Ila and their son Shiv Naresh Singh (4).
“Let me tell you the story as to why I became a bariatric surgeon,” he said. “I was lucky to do my residency on a program that has been in existence since 2002. I attended a seminar where many former patients of bariatric surgery participated in a reunion and also had a chance to address the public in a segment called a ‘Bragging Session’,” Dr. Singh stated.
He also pointed out that all the former patients were celebrating 5 years since their surgery, which had changed their lives. “People stated that before the surgery they were 300 or 400 pounds obese and they had diabetes, hypertension, and other medical problems,” Dr. Singh said.
In addition he stated that the former patients brought their old clothes to show during this meeting and for Dr. Singh it was difficult to imagine that they were that big. They also mentioned that after they brought their weight under control they were no longer in need of insulin or other medications. “One former patient said that he was running 5k Marathons and all of them said to be living a very active and healthy life. I was able to detect pride in their voices when they said they were happy to have gotten rid of the weight. That in itself gave me the fulfillment and I wanted to help make a change in people’s lives,” he said.
Dr. Singh has been surrounded by engineers all his life; his brother, uncle and sister in law are engineers and his nephews are in the process of becoming engineers. His Father the late Naresh Prasad Singh was also an engineer and it appeared to be the tradition so he enrolled in school to become an engineer. “My father knew that I had interest in medicine and he told me, ‘you don’t have to do what the rest of the family has done, if you want to change to medicine because that’s what you like, do it’.” Dr. Singh didn’t hesitate and changed to medicine because he felt that was his passion. “So I am the first person in my family to become a physician instead of an engineer,” he said. Today he is part of McAllen Surgeons as well as part of a team at the Renaissance Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.
Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez is a familiar face in the Valley. He came back to serve his community and offers Advanced Laparoscopic & Bariatric Surgery for Adults and Pediatrics at the Renaissance Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.
He was born in Caldwell, Idaho and just a year old when his parents being migrant workers moved to the Valley. He grew up in Pharr, Texas and graduated from the Phar-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) school district. Dr. Hernandez said that his father was from Monterrey, Mexico and his mom from Alice, Texas. Both used to work the fields in Oregon and Idaho, therefore he was born in Idaho. When he was 10 years of age, his parents divorced, however one passed away and the other parent left the area, and consequently he ended up living with his grandmother Crecencia Guevara.
During the time his parents were migrant workers they used to pick strawberries and hops especially during the fall. Hops are the female flower clusters (commonly called seed cones or strobiles) of a hop species. They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer and herbal medicine.
Dr. Hernandez came back to the Valley because he realized after his full training that it was very easy for him to go elsewhere and achieve success in a big practice but it is very difficult to go where there is so much need such as the Rio Grande Valley where there is a shortage of physicians, not only in general surgery but in adult services and pediatrics. “To me, coming back to the Valley is a way to pay back to my community,” he said.
Dr. Hernandez has been a doctor since 1995 and is board certified in general surgery and pediatric surgery. In addition he also performs advanced laparoscopic surgery with the da Vinci® Si™ robotic system which has several unique features like Enhanced 3D, high-definition vision of operative field with up to 10x magnification and optional dual console which allows a second surgeon to provide assistance, just to name a few. Dr. Hernandez brings advanced skills from pediatric surgery into the adult world. He is also a trainer of the robotic system da Vinci® Si™.
Dr. Hernandez said that his wife is an angel and always supportive of his career. He loves being a doctor and releases stress when in the operating room. “When I am not operating and get back home I ask my wife what do you want to do? And I do whatever she wants including going to the mall,” he said.
Mega Doctor News asked, what fulfills you in this life? “My wife and my son,” he finalized.
Dr. Hernandez graduated from the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He completed a fellowship at the University of Michigan Department of Surgery and an additional fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Hernandez completed a Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery Mini Fellowship at The Center for Advanced Skills Training at the Cleveland Clinic. He is board certified in pediatric and general surgery by the American College of Surgeons.
He is a member of the American Pediatric Surgical Association, the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and the International Pediatric Endosurgery Group. Dr. Hernandez is fully dedicated to the practice of surgery for both adults and pediatrics in the growing communities of South Texas.
Dr. Robert E. Alleyn, an Advanced Laparoscopic & Bariatric Surgeon was born in Edinburg to Mickey Alleyn (Dad) a mechanical contractor at Texair and Beverley Alleyn, R.N. (Mom). He has two sisters and one brother. He graduated from McAllen High School and from the University of Texas Medical School of Houston in 1985.
He completed his general residency at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, Texas. From 1991-1992 Dr. Alleyn served in the US Army at Darnell Army Hospital in Fort Hood, Texas. He was part of the 475th MASH unit in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Dr. Alleyn received his certification by the American Board of General Surgery in 1992. He is board certified in general surgery by the American College of Surgeons and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
In addition, Dr. Alleyn is a member of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons and the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. He moved back to the Valley because it was home and so that his children would grow up near their grandparents.
When asked what is the passion that fulfills him about his profession, he replied, “Surgery is a good combination of intellectual and manual tasks,” Dr. Alleyn said.
Originally he entered medical school on an MD/PhD program in biomedical engineering. Dr. Alleyn had worked for NASA while in college and planned to go back, but after he did his surgery rotations he realized that surgery was what he wanted to do. “I always knew I would go into some form of science,” he said.
He also pointed out that one of the biggest challenges in his medical career is that often as physicians they have to make major decisions without having all of the information needed to make the decision. How do you deal with stress? “ I don’t really carry a lot of stress but I like outdoor activities, fishing, hiking, canoeing, sailing, etc.”
We asked if he sacrificed any-thing along the way for his career. “I did not sacrifice much but my family did,” he said.
He married Melody Murphy in 1980 and she is from McHi’s class of 1979. They have two daughters and a son; Stephanie (27) teaches high school Art in San Antonio; Alyssa (21) is in graduate school in Tennessee at Vanderbilt’s child studies program and Jimmy (19) is a sophomore at Southwestern University in Georgetown, TX. “He wants to pursue a career in science but he is not sure if it will be medicine. Currently he’s studying chemistry and biology,” Dr. Alleyn said.
Aside from participating in the 475th MASH unit in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during Desert Storm, he went to Haiti for two weeks with a missionary group after the earthquake to help during trying times for that country.
Dr. Alleyn has been a surgeon for 22 years; what he says brings him the most satisfaction is curing or at least putting diabetes into remission and other chronic diseases and improving people’s lives.
Dr. Alleyn has been active in the Boy Scouts Troop 68 over the years and Jimmy was an Eagle Scout in that troop just like his father. He is not currently active, however he has been active in the International Museum of Arts and Science.
We asked how he wants to be remembered. “As a good husband, father, grandfather, friend, surgeon, more or less in that order,” he finalized.
These doctors are individually and completely dedicated to their profession and are always looking out for the wellbeing of their patients. The Renaissance Bariatric and Metabolic Institute (BMI) is a comprehensive program aimed to provide you with world-class care and personalized attention as you work towards your weight loss goals.
The program offers proven and effective techniques for treating obesity and its related complications using a team approach. The full-time support team, which includes dietitians and nurses, is dedicated to providing the best pre-operative and post-operative care for every patient.
Bariatric surgery is designed to help patients lose weight rapidly while improving or resolving co-existing health problems. Weight loss surgery has shown outstanding success and has a proven record of remarkable weight loss. The benefits of surgery are not only dramatic weight loss and resolution of weight associated medical problems, but also a marked improvement in quality of life. Their staff of experienced and talented surgeons performs the most advanced surgical weight loss options here at the Renaissance Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.
For more information, call 956.362.LOSE or 956.362.5673 to contact the Renaissance Bariatric and Metabolic Institute located at 5525 Doctors Drive in Edinburg, Texas. MDN
Written by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez the 2009 SBA Journalist of the Year Award Winner & The 2009 and 2012 Paul Harris Award recipient.