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Two surgeries gives patient enhanced quality of life

Spending years in and out of the hospital due to recurrent hernia surgeries, Jo was all too familiar with the illness and symptoms of hernias. Jo had a long career in technology, but frequently missed months at a time due to hospitalization from illness related to hernia complications, once missing almost six months of work. She thought the need for surgeries to repair hernias was going to be a regular part of her life, until she was referred to Andrew Duffy, MD, hernia surgery medical director at Yale New Haven Hospital.

jo gabriele 

As a retiree residing in Danbury, Jo recently rescued a 3-year-old dog named Maeve. Jo is a talented cook and baker, and is active with the community outreach committee at her church, helping non-profit organizations in the area. With illnesses and symptoms related to her many hernia surgeries, Jo wasn’t able to keep up with her beloved hobbies.

Once her pain was so terrible, Jo ended up at a nearby emergency room only to be told by the doctors they could not help her because her abdominal wall was too complex to operate. They referred her to Dr. Duffy, who specializes in robotic and complex hernia repair surgery. “Jo came to me with a disabling hernia that was causing frequent bowel obstructions.  She had had numerous prior surgical attempts that failed. When I first met her, we discussed the role of weight reduction surgery and staged hernia repair as the right path for her," said Dr. Duffy, “When it comes to hernia repair, particularly for complex and recurring hernias, the treatment has to be individualized to the patient.” 

On a mission to rid herself of ongoing surgeries and pain, Jo set out to reduce her weight in preparation for bariatric surgery so once healed, she could also have her abdominal wall and hernia repaired. Seven months after her bariatric surgery at Yale New Haven Hospital, Dr. Duffy also repaired her complex hernia. One year and two successful surgeries later, Jo was on the path to recovery, feeling like the healthiest version of herself. “I was most impressed with his time and understanding. I asked a million questions, and he would show me photos and scans, explaining what was wrong and what he needed to do to fix me,” Jo explained of Dr. Duffy’s care before and after both her surgeries.

Today, Jo is still hernia free and enjoys taking her dog on five walks each day and stays involved with her church committee. Dr. Duffy commented on her unique case, “The hernia repair for her was life-changing and probably lifesaving. The consensus from many other surgeons familiar with her case was that this hernia could not be repaired. We have shown that even the most challenging hernias can be repaired within our hernia surgery program.”