Evie’s journey from nurse to weight loss surgery patient and the mother of triplets

St Vincent's Private Hospital Northside

On World Obesity Day, we highlight the holistic approach to obesity and weight loss options that St Vincent’s Northside and collaborating health professionals are embarking upon to help the public cut through the cluttered and confusing landscape.

Evie Ludeman went from hospital theatre nurse to hospital patient at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside - and from having no children to being the mother of triplets, all in the space of around 20 months!


Her journey encompassed weight loss, bariatric surgery, a difficult pregnancy and the birth of three beautiful girls at 31 weeks in 2022.


But a critical component to her weight loss and her pregnancy, was her decision to undergo bariatric (weight loss) surgery in the form of a gastric sleeve procedure by bariatric surgeon Dr Rob Finch of Total Upper GI Surgery. Evie works as a theatre nurse with Dr Finch’s colleague Dr David Mitchell who recommended she consult with his St Vincent’s practice partner.

In 2019, Evie and her partner Jesse, had decided they wanted to start a family – but two significant health issues, of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, were impacting on her fertility and her quality of life.


“I’m someone who has always made their health and fitness a priority and I took it to a new level when I started boxing in a gym in my mid-20s up to five times a week as well as running,” says Nurse Evie, now aged 36. 


“But as my health issues with endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome persisted – plus with the added complication of a hormone imbalance, I found I was gaining significant amounts of weight in my early 30s. 


“By the time Covid had sent us into lockdown and closed gyms – with the added stress of being cut off from my family interstate – it meant that my daily food choices became less than ideal. I found my weight had ballooned out to just under 100kg and I showed it because I’m only just over 150cm.


“I was told that I was too obese to get pregnant and that given my weight, it could make the pregnancy more difficult. I’m normally working alongside bariatric surgeon Dr Mitchell assisting as his theatre nurse in procedures such as gastric sleeve at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside, so it was quite a role reversal when I opted to be the bariatric patient in May 2020.


“The surgery was over in less than an hour and I was back home recovering after two days with no real complications. As a result, my weight eventually stabilised around 60kg after having been 98kg.”


For a variety of health reasons, Dr Finch recommended Evie wait for a year after surgery before trying to get pregnant – and she and her partner were quickly successful.


Scans and tests at six weeks left her in “complete shock” when it revealed three heartbeats! While she describes her pregnancy as difficult, any challenges were superseded by the joy of giving birth to three daughters via a Caesarean section.

Rob Finch

Dr Rob Finch - Bariatric Surgeon at St Vincent's Private Hospital Northside

Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in Australia which has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world, ranking fifth among OECD countries. Around 14 million Australians are living with obesity or are overweight – that’s 2 in every 3 adults and 1 in 4 children.

Dr Finch, and his colleagues (Dr Mitchell and Dr Kevin Chan) at Total Upper GI Surgery at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside, are leading exponents of new and emerging bariatric (weight loss) procedures and techniques – and have collectively performed bariatric surgery on thousands of patients over more than 15 years.

 St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside has six bariatric surgeons in total – including Dr George Hopkins, Dr Ian Shaw and Dr Kevin Lah.

Dr Hopkins is an upper gastrointestinal and bariatric surgeon at St Vincent’s. He founded Obesity Surgery Brisbane and is former president of the Australian and New Zealand Metabolic and Obesity Surgery Society (ANZMOSS).


Dr Shaw is an experienced laparoscopic gastrointestinal surgeon who is a visiting surgeon at St Vincent’s while Dr Lah is a General Surgeon specialising in upper gastrointestinal (GI), weight management (bariatric) and complex hernia surgeries.

Dr Finch said obesity was a complex chronic illness, driven by genes, hormones and psychological factors and emotions, as well as environment factors. He said there was a good deal of confusion in the community around what was a normal and healthy weight, the amount of exercise that people should do, as well as a flood of conflicting dietary and food advice and the vast array of surgical options and weight loss medications and their efficacy.

Dr Finch said there were several bariatric surgery options, including gastric bypass and mini bypass surgery – but he recommended that Evie undergo gastric sleeve surgery which was lower risk for someone who was planning to get pregnant soon.


“Evie’s BMI was at the lower end of obesity (BMI of 37) and in the absence of other co-morbidities such as diabetes and reflux, I thought that a sleeve gastrectomy was the best option for her,” Dr Finch said.


The operation, which normally takes less than an hour, involves the use of a medical stapling device to divide the stomach while a calibration tube was placed within the stomach - which reduces its volume, and results in patients ‘feeling full’ when eating, much sooner than they do before they have surgery. 


Dr Finch said it was important for people living with obesity to understand that there were inevitably long-term health consequences with an elevated risk of serious illness and disease as they grew older. 

"Obesity is commonly associated with other metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic kidney disease and many cancers," said Dr Finch. "If untreated, obesity will almost certainly catch up with people as they age and that can be any time from their 30s until their 60s and 70s - if they live that long."

Paige Lanyon-Roberts

Dr Paige Lanyon-Roberts - General Practitioner and Founder of MedSurg Weight Loss

Dr Paige Lanyon-Roberts is a Brisbane General Practitioner with special interest in metabolic health and the management of obesity, who last year founded a specialised obesity practice, MedSurg Weight Loss, providing in-person consultations in Brisbane and telehealth services Australia-wide. 

St Vincent’s Private Hospital Northside and Total Upper GI Surgery collaborated with Dr Lanyon-Roberts and her colleague, Dietitian Dr Somayyeh Firouzi, to promote and host the first Metabolic Health and Weight Loss Expo for the local community yesterday, ahead of World Obesity Day at Stafford on Brisbane’s northside.

Around 100 people attended the free event and were able to talk to a range of medical and allied health experts, including surgeons, doctors, psychologists and dietitians which provided them with a hands-on opportunity to ask advice from experts about everything to do with weight loss, including surgery, medications such as Ozempic, devices such as consumable weight loss balloons and other injection devices.

Dr Lanyon-Roberts said the focus for her medical practice, and the Expo, was on education and awareness for the public in what was a labyrinthian landscape of confusing and conflicting information around obesity, weight loss, and the best options to manage the chronic illness.


“I believe that obesity is a chronic disease caused by many different biological, psychological and social factors. People living with obesity deserve access to affordable and effective treatments, and importantly, they deserve to be treated with compassion and respect,” she said. 


“There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding the different treatment options available for obesity, and there’s a lot of barriers that prevent people from being able to access treatment, too.


“Our clinic focusses on holistic and individualised patient care. We are passionate about helping our patients navigate their weight loss journeys and believe that empowering our patients through education is key. Not all weight loss interventions suit all people. 


“We spend a great deal of time getting to know our patients and help them to find the right treatment that suits them personally. For some people this may mean medication and for others, bariatric surgery is a better solution. 


“There’s obviously been lots of media stories and attention around weight loss medications recently, and certainly they can be a fantastic and effective treatment option. 


“But that’s only one of many solutions, and for some people, medications aren’t suitable for them. Dietitians, Psychologists, Bariatric Surgeons, Exercise Physiologists and General Practitioners also play a really important role in the management of obesity. 

"I think that it's really important to destigmatise obesity and weight loss and to offer comprehensive, respectful and individualised advice based on a person's unique circumstances."

Dr Somayyeh Firouzi

Dr Somayyeh Firouzi - Dietician at MedSurg Weight Loss

“Dietitians also play a crucial role in supporting individuals going through bariatric surgery. As we embark on the journey with our patients, we emphasise not just the physical aspects of nutrition but also the emotional and psychological components. It's about fostering sustainable habits and empowering individuals to make lasting changes that enhance their overall well-being," said Dr Firouzi.

Evie says her decision to have bariatric surgery has changed her life in so many ways – and possibly even helped save her life.


“I’m so much fitter and happier and I’m not lethargic. I have my three gorgeous girls who are now two, although life is busy with them and I’ll admit I do get tired sometimes,” she says.


“In the world of social media, body image issues are a big thing and you can’t help but get bombarded with so much information about diets, food fads and different views on what initially appear to be easy fixes for weight loss. 


“Losing weight is one of the best things you can do for your overall health – every aspect of your health benefits from your heart, all major organs, your joints – everything. If anyone is unhappy with their weight or thinks they should lose weight, they should consult health professionals and explore all of your options including bariatric surgery.


“The aftermath did involve significant lifestyle changes for me but it definitely proved to be the right option for me.”


Click here to begin your weight loss journey and to find out more about our patient-centred approach to obesity, including how to book an appointment with a doctor and how to get a fee estimate on bariatric surgery.

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