Meet the Brissie surgeon helping America win the battle of the bulge
Fielding Brisbane raised lap-band surgeon George says fat is the new normal, reports
HE’S the go-to surgeon for the rich and famous – and the super fat.
Brisbane’s George Fielding, who has performed the most number of lap-band operations in the world, has helped everyone from US billionaires to Saudi Arabian royals shed up to 70kg.
“There are extremely high- profile people I can’t talk about, but I banded Chris Christie when he was governor of New Jersey, Rex Ryan when he coached the New York Jets (NFL team), and Khaliah Ali, the daughter of Muhammad Ali,” says Dr Fielding, 61, who has lived in Manhattan since 2006.
“Christie has become a buddy – we share a mutual love of Bruce Springsteen but Bruce won’t talk to him because Christie is a Republican,” he laughs, on a visit to the Indooroopilly home where he and his six siblings grew up.
Dr Fielding, who performs up to 50 operations a month, has worked in more than 12 countries and was invited to the US to show them how it’s done. Not only did he bring to Queensland the ground- breaking procedure – in which a band is tied around the top of the stomach to shrink it and make patients feel full faster – but he underwent it himself.
“I’d been fighting my own weight my whole life. I was a prop at (Brisbane) Grammar and the University of Queensland, but then I got really big. I lost 30-40kg five or six times, on my own, but I couldn’t keep it off and by the time I’d done around 2000 bands, patients would say, ‘hey doc, you’re fatter than I am’.”
Heart complications prompted Dr Fielding to act, asking mentor Paul O’Brien of Monash University, to perform the operation. That was in 1999 and he has kept off the 55kg he lost as a result.
“There is a perception that obesity is a personality weakness, but it’s a physiological defect in the way you respond to your stomach stretching, so if you can manipulate that, you will behave normally. I’m 6ft and 98kg, and my wife is 5ft 5 and 50kg but I eat less than she does, and I’m genuinely not hungry.”
Dr Fielding met fellow surgeon Christine Ren, 52, at a conference in Singapore and they married in 2006. She heads the weight-loss division at the New York University Langone Medical Centre where her husband works.
Dr Fielding’s first wife and mother of his four adult children, is Brisbane GP Jennifer