In the world of morbidly obese individuals, Dr. Now is highly-regarded as one of the best bariatric surgeons who can provide help to transform their lives. This distinction is partly due to his involvement in the reality-television show, “My 600-lb Life.” His numerous successful operations and no-nonsense personality and approach helped turn the TLC TV series into one of the most popular on the cable network. His fans have celebrated his achievements, but have also been saddened by the loss of some of his patients, who were starting to enjoy a quality life after the weight loss treatment.
- 1 Get to know Dr. Now a little bit more
- 2 A list of Dr. Now’s patients who unfortunately died
- 2.1 Renee Williams (814lbs, died in 2007)
- 2.2 Henry Foots (715lbs, died in 2013)
- 2.3 Robert Buchel (842lbs, died in 2017)
- 2.4 Sean Milken (919lbs, died in 2019)
- 2.5 Kelly Mason (725lbs, died in 2019)
- 2.6 Ashley Randall (617lbs, died in 2021)
- 2.7 James “LB” Bonner (642lbs, died in 2021)
- 2.8 Renee Biran (631lbs, died in 2021)
- 2.9 Destinee LaShaee (669lbs, died in 2022)
Get to know Dr. Now a little bit more
The famous bariatric surgeon is known to accept extremely difficult cases, and is one reason why his services have been in demand over the years. While he gave tough love to most of his stubborn patients, he knew how to balance his approach due to recognizing the psychological issues that come with obesity, saying in an interview, ‘It’s my job to help them, no matter what.’
His early life and educational background in Tehran
Even after becoming Dr. Now, he’s still Younan Nowzaradan, who was born in October 1944, in Teheran, Iran. There’s very little information about his childhood, but it’s revealed that he has a younger brother. The good doctor said that while growing up in Tehran, he couldn’t have possibly imagined that he would end up as a doctor, and a celebrated one at that. It was far from his mind, but somewhere along the way, his mind changed; the young Younan had excellent grades up to high school which led him to pursue a medical degree at the University of Tehran, graduating in 1970.
His extensive educational achievement in the U.S
A year later, he was given an opportunity to enhance his medical skills in the US, and flew to Missouri to participate in a Medical Orientation Program at St Louis University. He then went to Detroit, Michigan to complete his surgical internship at St. John’s Hospital, and then moved to Nashville, Tennessee, for a four-year residency at St. Thomas Hospital. With his superb skills and intellect as a medical doctor, it didn’t take long for someone to notice him. Dr. Denton Cooley, renowned for being the first surgeon to perform a total artificial heart implant on a living person, offered him a cardiovascular fellowship at Texas Heart Institute in Houston, Texas and he accepted. Since then, he’s never left Houston, starting his subsequent medical practice there.
Medical practice – from cardiovascular to bariatric surgery and weight-loss expert
After years of performing heart surgery, Dr. Now shifted his focus to bariatric surgery, using it to treat extreme obesity. At that time, no one in Houston used Laparoscopic Surgery for other purposes; the doctor researched it, and offered his services in Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery. To provide his patients with complete treatment, he was also involved with post-bypass corrective surgery, to remove all the excess skin around the body of his patients, to assist them in living more comfortably, as well as to make them look better.
His reality-TV career
Dr. Now’s introduction to the world of TV began when his son, Jonathan Nowzaradan, CEO of an entertainment production company called Megalomedia, Inc., produced the documentary “World’s Heaviest Woman.” It featured a woman who weighed 841 pounds, and was looking for a doctor to help with her obesity problem. At that time, it was only Dr. Now who was willing to take a risk on her. After the documentary was aired, Megalomedia, Inc. produced the same type of series – “Last Chance to Live.” Then, the TLC network stepped in, and it became “My 600-lb Life.” The doctor was also part of other TV series such as “Half Ton Killer,” “World’s Heaviest Dad, Mom & Son,” and “Skin Tight”, and wrote the book “The Scale Does Not Lie, People Do.”
— Younan Nowzaradan (@YNowzaradan) July 6, 2019
A list of Dr. Now’s patients who unfortunately died
Dr. Now’s successful surgeries have been well documented, but not all of his patients lived a longer life. Most of them faced stigma each day due to their size, which oftentimes led to depression and other mental health issues. It was why the doctor encouraged some of his patients to undergo a pre-operative psychological evaluation, and receive therapy if needed. Here are some of Dr. Now’s patients who passed away:
Renee Williams (814lbs, died in 2007)
About five years prior to the TV debut of “My 600-lb Life,” Dr. Now was featured as the attending doctor to Renee Williams, who was believed to be the heaviest woman in the world at that time, weighing 841lbs during its filming. The doctor performed gastric bypass surgery in November 2007, which at that time was becoming an increasingly popular trend to cure morbid obesity. A week and a half after the surgery, her vitals showed no sign of anything to worry about. However, she started to feel chest pains after a few days, and on Sunday of that week, she passed away. It was the day she was supposed to be released from the hospital, but it was rescheduled because the medical team wanted to remove some of the infected skin on the sides of her body. Her fiancé wanted to have her body autopsied, but her mother didn’t approve since Renee was fully aware of the risks of her surgery. Other doctors said that with or without surgery, she was a ticking time bomb.
Henry Foots (715lbs, died in 2013)
For the past 10 seasons of “My 600-lb Life,” Dr. Now continuously treated patients with extreme obesity with bariatric operations that were successful; Henry Foots from the first season was the first to have died. Henry was about 715lbs when he started seeing Dr. Now, and during the first season, viewers witnessed seven years of his life under the weight-loss program. When he learned that he flatlined during his surgery, he became even more determined to lose weight, and was successful; by the end of his episode in the TV show, it was revealed that he only weighed 275lbs. He regained his confidence, and worked as a bus driver. However, sometime in 2012, he lost control of the bus he was driving, and killed a woman; the investigation reported that Henry experienced a “medical episode.” About a year later, on 16 May 2013, Henry died – the exact cause wasn’t shared with the public, but people close to him said that it wasn’t related to his weight-loss surgery.
Robert Buchel (842lbs, died in 2017)
If some patients in Dr. Now’s weight-loss program had a hard time losing weight, Robert Buchell seemed to want it so badly that he immediately lost 124lbs during his first month of entering the program. He had lymphedema removal surgery, and the doctor was quite happy with the result. He lost excess fat amounting to 340lbs over the following months, and eventually weighed around 500lbs. Robert knew that he could lose more if he stayed on the right path, however, he developed an addiction to painkillers. Dr. Now tried his best to wean him off it, but Robert became stubborn and nasty after the surgery. He flat out refused to do anything related to losing weight, or even just to get out of bed unless he was given his pain medication; apparently his food addiction had turned into a painkiller addiction. In November 2017, while filming for “My 600-lb Life,” Robert died from a heart attack.
Robert Buchel's fiancée Kathryn Lemanski reflects on 'My 600-lb Life' star's death: "I've been called a murderer." 💔 —> https://bit.ly/2A5qBVC
Sean Milken (919lbs, died in 2019)
In the fourth season, viewers of “My 600lb-Life” were shocked to learn that 26-year-old Sean Milken weighed more than 900lbs when he first consulted with Dr. Now; he was considered the heaviest patient to have been featured in the show. Everyone was absolutely stunned that instead of losing weight, Sean blew up to half a ton after he entered Dr. Now’s weight-loss program. Apparently, his mother continued to enable him with his food addiction, even after they received the diet plan. The doctor didn’t have any choice but to have him monitored in the hospital, and only then did he manage to shed around 260lbs.
However, when he was released back into his mother’s so-called care at home, in no time he gained 50lbs. As per Dr. Now’s advice, the mother and son underwent psychological evaluation and therapy to address the issue – the time with the psychiatrist worked for them, and he lost the required weight and qualified for bariatric surgery. Sean lost a total of 455lbs after the surgery, but it didn’t take long for him to gain weight under his mother’s ‘watch’. His weight kept going up and down, but worsened when his mother died. He didn’t take it well and was back in the hospital, dying in February 2019 at the young age of 29. His heart couldn’t deal with the stress, due to the infection he had acquired.
Kelly Mason (725lbs, died in 2019)
Of all the patients he’d treated, Dr. Now took the loss of Kelly Mason a little bit harder than the others, because she’d tried so hard to overcome her obesity problems. She weighed 725lbs when she started the weight-loss program, and through her perseverance, she qualified for bariatric surgery. She eventually lost more than 340lbs, but during filming for “My 600-lb Life,” she passed away in her sleep. Apparently, she waited too long to do something about her obesity, that her body suffered from many problems, including congestive heart failure, blood clotting, thyroid problem, and pulmonary embolism. Before the surgery, she already knew that even if she was on the right track, something could go wrong. She said, ‘But with my heart not functioning the way it’s supposed to, this breath could be my last breath. But I don’t want to die,’
Ashley Randall (617lbs, died in 2021)
During the premiere season of “My 600-lb Life,” Ashley Randall was the youngest among the featured patients – she was 24 years old when she started treatment with Dr. Now. As with most of his patients, Ashley’s food addiction began when she was a young kid. Her mother tried dealing with it by throwing insults and teasing her about it, but Ashley’s father reprimanded his wife, and told her to just let their daughter be. She avoided her mother and became closer to her father. The reality-TV show chronicled Ashley’s weight-loss journey for 11 years; she lost around 265lbs by her fifth year with the doctor, and by the time her episode in the show ended, she weighed about 250lbs, and was waiting for surgery on her legs.
She continued to lose weight even at home, and eventually went down to 216lbs. However, her father was diagnosed with cancer, and she immediately dropped everything to take care of him, but seven months later he passed away. She then stopped losing weight, and didn’t see Dr. Now for three years, at which point she’d gained weight, and was about 312lbs. The doctor required her to lose weight again, to qualify for the leg surgery. While she was trying to do that, she caught a terrible infection, and struggled with pneumonia. It was reported that in October 2021, her body gave up on her, and she was taken off life support, surrounded by her family.
James “LB” Bonner (642lbs, died in 2021)
Following a car accident in which he lost a leg, James “LB” Bonner turned to food and alcohol to deal with it. With his unhealthy lifestyle, he ballooned up to 642lbs, but when he joined the TV show, he worked hard and qualified for the surgery, eventually losing a total of 400lbs after the procedure. LB continued to lose weight after the show, and was eventually in the 200-lb range. His social media posts were inspiring and encouraging for those who were in the same boat as himself before he joined Dr. Now’s weight-loss program. One of his social posts said, ‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. ALWAYS.’ The fans were shocked that on 2 August 2018, a report came out that LB died due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In 2020, his family filed a lawsuit against Megalomedia, Inc. for gross negligence, and failure to provide mental health care for LB.
Renee Biran (631lbs, died in 2021)
Being molested by her stepfather from five years of age made Renee Biran turn to food for comfort. It was what her grandmother encouraged her to do, to keep her as sane and normal as possible. Her love for food led her to weigh 240lbs at the age of 14. Due to financial reasons, her husband left her to take care of the kids on her own, and she pursued a career as an online plus-sized model with the mantra of ‘Big is Beautiful.’ She catered to men with a fetish such as watching big women eat online, and was paid for it. Over the years, she never thought of it as a path to self-destruction, until she was 630lbs. She became fully dependent on her children, even for the most trivial tasks of taking care of her personal hygiene, but what finally made her seek the services of Dr. Now was that she had difficulty breathing. She shared in her episode, ‘Every morning it gets harder to move and harder to breathe.’
She was placed on a strict diet to lose the required amount of weight to qualify for surgery as soon as possible; Dr. Now also made sure she underwent therapy with a psychiatrist to address mental health issues. After she had surgery, her weight went down to 381lbs, but she was determined to lose more. Just when everything seemed to be going great for her, in 2019 she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. On 14 May 2021, her family posted on social media that she’d died. They didn’t mention the cause of her death, but fans believed that it was related to her immune system disorder.
Destinee LaShaee (669lbs, died in 2022)
The first transgender person featured in the seventh season of “My 600lb-Life” brought so much inspiration to many of its viewers. Destinee LaShaee first appeared in the show weighing close to 700lbs; she was very open about her mental health issues, and shared that she was quite lonely because of her obesity, and saying that all she’d done for many years was wait for her food. ‘I don’t see any of my family and friends unless they come to see me.’
Through her determination to change her life, she lost around 230lbs at the end of her episode, but continued to lose more after her stint with the show, losing a total of 500lbs, and sharing photos of her weight-loss journey on her social media account, which inspired many people. In February 2022, the fans were shocked when her brother, Matthew Ventress, announced that she’d passed away. Her cause of death wasn’t mentioned, but fans concluded that it had something to do with depression. She was 30 years old at the time of her death.
While many of Dr. Now’s patients enjoyed much better lives after joining his weight-loss program, there were some who didn’t enjoy the happy ending that they wished for. Oftentimes, the surgery was successful, but somewhere along the way, they couldn’t deal with their inner demons.