Surgery for Healing Beyond the Skin

Mark McClanahan lost over 150 pounds through diet and exercise (please see the most recent update, as there is new information which isn't listed here!!). As exciting an accomplishment as this is, excess skin left from the weight loss is still impeding his freedom and impacting his quality of life. Unfortunately, insurance has denied coverage for the surgery, despite more than one doctor submitting it as medically necessary. 

From a close loved one, Coral:

I believe with all my heart that Mark deserves this surgery and would like to take a moment to share with you what makes this man so remarkable.

I met Mark in the spring of 2013, and what amazed me about him above all was his heart for service. I was physically disabled and often required a wheelchair. I also needed a daily caretaker. From the very beginning, Mark was naturally compassionate and helpful with my health. Just 3 short months after we met, my 38-year-old sister, who had terminal cancer, was given 2 weeks to live. Mark risked his job to drive me from Oregon to California so that I could say goodbye to her in her last days. He took care of me the entire two weeks on his own, as my family was occupied with caring for my dying sister. Had he not reached out to help, I likely would not have had the chance to spend this last precious time with her. A little over a year later, my father also died from cancer, and Mark steadily, gently and patiently helped me through the crushing grief of both losses.

We shared 4 wonderful years together as boyfriend and girlfriend, and even though our connection has evolved into a friendship, the impact of his love and care while we were together is still profoundly felt even to this day. He helped me through the most difficult, darkest time of my life and encouraged me to find new joy and hope in life despite the challenges I was facing. Whenever we spent time together, he went above and beyond to do almost everything for me -- pushing my wheelchair, bringing me whatever I needed, and sometimes even carrying my body from one place to another. He has told me many times that one of his greatest passions is being of service to others, and now I hope this is my chance to help him in return.

Some photos taken at a friend's wedding:

Mark's Story:
Mark grew up as a child of alcoholism, family addiction, emotional abuse, and neglect. He has struggled with severe depression and anxiety most of his life and eventually turned to food and alcohol as a young adult to escape. With little encouragement or support from his family growing up, he isolated himself from almost everyone in his life. By July 2008, Mark weighed 350 pounds. He has told me that his back hurt just walking down the street, that he couldn't fit into a booth at a restaurant, and he could barely fit into his own car even with the seat all the way back.

During a visit with his doctor, Mark was informed his cholesterol and blood pressure levels were so high that he had a good chance of having a heart attack in the next year or two. Sobered by the news, he finally decided to commit to losing weight. He changed his diet and adopted an exercise regime at the gym and at home. By spring of 2009, less than a year after his initial meeting with his doctor, he had lost 70 pounds. By 2011 he was down 120 pounds, and by April 2014, he had lost an astounding 150 pounds. In under six years, he brought his weight down from 350 to 198 pounds. In 2012, he started his journey on addiction awareness, eventually joining 12-step programs and getting regular counseling to work through his past traumas. He is continuing to better himself—physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Hanging skin is pictured below. The right photo shows Mark holding the skin up for photographing.

Now we need your help to continue the healing process. After such a dramatic change, Mark is left with hanging, deflated skin due to his weight loss. His doctor has noted that he likely has close to 10-15 lbs of loose skin alone. This excess skin, especially on his torso, has physical ramifications that degrade his quality of life. It causes ongoing painful infections which require continuous treatment. Repeated infections have even caused scarring in this area. It also prevents him from being as active as he yearns to be. The skin pulls and causes pain if he attempts to run or jump without binding it first. He is limited in what forms of exercise he can participate. In addition, it increases his risk for injury in performing daily tasks at his job as a train conductor for Union Pacific. Attached is a photo of a bruise he suffered from one such injury.

His physicians agree that the skin removal surgery is medically necessary and have submitted it to his insurance company multiple times. Unfortunately, insurance has denied coverage for his surgery each time, so we are asking for help to cover the cost of this life-changing surgery.

Please help me help an extraordinary individual who has changed my life for the better and gives freely without asking for anything in return. Having this surgery would not only improve his quality of life, but remove a painful reminder of a difficult past and help progress him farther along his road to recovery. He has moved heaven and earth to better himself against all odds, and if it's in my power, I want to help him achieve this last health goal for which he's fought so hard. 
Thank you all so much, and may 2022 be beautiful and bright for all!

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Organizer and beneficiary

Coral Schnippert
Bend, OR
John McClanahan

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