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Kaylee’s Health Journey by Risa Teate

By June 25, 2024Uncategorized

This is the journey of Kaylee Marie Gallegos. Kaylee was born in Boca Raton on August 14th, 1998, to her mom, Risa Teate, at age forty-six. She was born at twenty-seven weeks gestation, at two pounds, nine ounces, and fourteen inches long, with Down syndrome and Autism. Ms. Teate is a licensed Elmo character from Sesame Street who does children’s parties and donates her time to schools, camps, and hospitals. She has also been in People magazine and was featured with Bret Michaels, from the music group Poison, for donating her time at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital for children with cancer.

Kaylee will soon celebrate her twenty-sixth birthday. She graduated from Monarch High School and was a part of their cheerleading team. Kaylee has always loved dancing, karaoke, reading, shopping, and fashion. Kaylee is a collector of reborn baby dolls, which are unique and very special to her. Kaylee has always had a happy childhood. From an early age, Kaylee’s mom has always told her that she isn’t special; she has special needs and is always treated as such.  Like every child, she had chores around the house and was expected to complete her schoolwork before playtime. Kaylee has always been a people person; she loves everyone. Her mom has always said th at the perfect job for her would be a greeter because she is so full of love.

Kaylee’s journey began when after a visit to her gynecologist, who also delivered Kaylee, she noted how much weight Kaylee had gained. The doctor told Risa that it was her responsibility to help Kaylee, and said Risa “took the easy way out” by having gastric bypass surgery, but that it was “not an option for Kaylee”. Miss Teate knew that it was not an easy way out, and started to think, “Why couldn’t Kaylee get the surgery?” She then proceeded to find a doctor who would be able to help Kaylee, who was very overweight, borderline diabetic, and suffering from Hidradenitis Suppurativa, an inflammatory disease that is usually related to obesity. Kaylee also suffered from depression and total loss of energy, unable to walk up the stairs of where she lived. NO doctor was willing to give Kaylee a consultation. After being turned down by fifteen doctors, Mom did not to give up. She was determined to find someone willing to help her daughter. After confiding in a friend, it was suggested that she try looking into Imperial Point Hospital Broward Health. In doing so, Ms. Teate found a general bariatric surgeon named Dr. Chi Zhang, MD. After researching, she realized he was a wonderful doctor and the perfect surgeon to talk to regarding Kaylee and her health. After examining Kaylee, he inquired why so many doctors turned her down. Although the previous doctors never gave her an answer why, she felt maybe they thought it would have been cruel to subject Kaylee to such surgery that she may not understand, or the changes to her body, diet and lifestyle. Dr. Zhang explained that it would be cruel to leave Kaylee in the state that she was. After seeing two psychiatrists, three dieticians, a cardiologist, and her primary doctor, Kaylee was cleared for surgery. On March 7th, 2023, Kaylee’s life took a turn for the better. She had gastric sleeve surgery at Imperial Point. Within two weeks, Kaylee was in the LA Fitness gym working out two to three times per week, followed by her clinical dietician Emilio Pena, who is part of Imperial Point Hospital and Dr. Zhang’s Physician group. Kaylee started losing weight and immediately began getting her energy back. Recovering wasn’t difficult because Kaylee had the will, the drive, and a great support team behind her. A few weeks later, Risa was contacted by the Broward Health Production Team, who asked if Kaylee would be interested in being part of their national TV commercials and billboards, along with having her documentary on YouTube and other publications. Kaylee is now the face of Broward Health and has a full page in the Sun Sentinel for Broward Health. Things have been wonderful. Kaylee has her health back and more energy than ever. She told Dr. Zhang that she had beat all odds, and he agreed! Kaylee is loving life as she now travels all over for modeling while sharing her story! The lesson is to never to underestimate someone with a disability who has the heart and the determination to do what they want!