Bariatric Surgery Patient Takes Her Life Back With the Help of Dr. Mark Kligman and the UM Center for Weight Management and Wellness

SUMMARY: Vonda Bennett was referred to Dr. Mark Kligman, (director of the UM Center for Weight Management and Wellness) through her primary care doctor, who felt the University of Maryland Medical Center was the best hospital for her. After attending Dr. Kligman's free weight loss surgery seminar she “knew at that point, that he was the doctor of choice. Dr. Kligman is very passionate in regards to his patients and his practice.” Vonda had her surgery in March of 2008 and has lost a total of 153 pounds, and no longer suffers from diabetes or high blood pressure. She was so inspired by her experience at UMMC that she now plans to write a book about it. Read more about Vonda's experience below.

I never knew at the age of 17 that my life would totally self destruct right before my very eyes.  On December 11, 1987 my father, Jesse M. Bolden, had fallen victim to a massive heart attack in our home at the age of 44. I knew from that point my life would never be the same.  That is when my life changed and within three years I had given birth to four beautiful children, Dominique (21), Darius (20), Eboni (19) and Joy (18).  I was never an overweight woman until after I started having children; however, I cannot blame my children for my weight gain. I blame myself.

Before photo of Vonda Bennett


After photo of Vonda Bennett


I married at the age of 21 to my high school sweetheart and was divorced several years later, which threw me into a deep state of depression. I fed my depression with an abundance of food and bad choices.  I will never forget the time my family came to visit me while residing in Myrtle Beach, SC.  My sister cried at the sight of me because I was extremely huge at that time.  She looked at me and said “Vonda, what happened?” I could not explain it; all I remember is that when they left I had an overwhelming feeling of depression come over me and felt as if I wanted to give up.  Dominique, who at the time was 13, came to me and said, “Momma, you have us to live for.”

I knew at that moment that I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and attempt to move on with my life no matter how hard it seemed at that time.  I ended up moving back to Columbus, Ga. with my family after health complications.

At that point I began dating and I met a wonderful man whom I married.  I told my husband that I was contemplating having gastric bypass surgery and at that time he wasn't a big fan of the surgery and was totally against it.

I attended the free weight loss surgery seminar with Dr. Kligman at UMMC in November 2007.  I invited my husband and my family to attend the seminar. My husband came in late to the seminar because of his job, but he made it in time to receive a wealth of information that Dr. Kligman had to offer. Knowing my family history, I knew that I had to do something about my weight.  I lost my grandmother, father and uncle all to heart attacks.

We found Dr. Kligman to be very informative, articulate and intelligent.  We all felt at ease after we heard all of the information that he provided at the seminar and we knew at that point, that he was the doctor of choice. Dr. Kligman is very passionate in regards to his patients and his practice.  It was a very pleasant experience from beginning to end dealing with Dr. Kligman and his staff. Not only was Dr. Kligman informative, but his staff was just as knowledgeable and was always willing to assist in any way possible.

I had my first appointment with Dr. Kligman on January 7, 2008 and had the surgery on March 6, 2008. When I started this journey, I was taking two pills for diabetes, two high blood pressure pills, a pill for high cholesterol and one pill for depression.  However, with the help of Dr. Mark Kligman and the staff of University of Maryland Hospital I took my life back, and I am now no longer a victim of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or depression.

The Road to Recovery

I began the hard road to recovery after surgery by walking a mile right after surgery with the nurses in the gastric bypass wing.  I will never forget Toni Brice, one of the nursing assistants in that wing. She was extremely helpful and took very good care of me while I was in their care.  My journey started weighing a whooping 339 pounds with me standing at 5 feet 7 inches tall. I have lost a total of 153 pounds since I took my life back March 6, 2008.

I was told that having gastric bypass was taking the easy way out. I beg to differ since I had to break up with soda, candy, potato chips and had to divorce fast food. Believe me when I tell you, it wasn't easy.  I had to start dating Mr. Healthy, have an affair with Mr. Eat Right and, at $70 a month for the family, I had to marry THE GYM. So by no means was this surgery the easy way out for me and a lot of other people who took the same journey.

A year later on March 12th, 2009 I went to see Dr. Ronald Silverman (associate professor of surgery in the University of Maryland School of Medicine and chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery) not knowing whether or not I would be approved for plastic surgery.  However, the insurance approved my surgery in two days!  I had a tummy tuck and breast lift on April 6th, my husband's birthday. I found Dr. Silverman to have the same qualities as Dr. Kligman, which was extremely refreshing for me and my family.

I would like to thank my family for sticking by me during my journey.  I would like to thank the staff at University of Maryland for making my stay an extremely awesome experience.  I also need to thank my primary care physician Dr. Gloria Golle for being such a wonderful doctor, and also Dr. Silverman for performing my tummy tuck and breast lift.  Last but not least, I owe a big thanks to Dr. Kligman for ultimately saving my life.

I now feel inspired to do great things. I plan to write a book sharing my story and look into possibly speaking out publicly about gastric bypass surgery and the wonderful doctor that performed it.

Contact Us 

If you would like to make an appointment or talk to someone about our services, please call 1-877-866-7348 (patients) or 1-800-373-4111 or 410-328-8940 (physicians).