Our Weight-loss Surgery Team

Aviv Ben-Meir, MD, FACS


Dr. Ben-Meir earned his medical degree at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in General Surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and his advanced laparoscopy and bariatric surgery training at the University of Virginia, School of Medicine in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. Ben-Meir is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons and the Society for American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. He is board certified in General Surgery, and has performed approximately 4,000 laparoscopic bariatric procedures. Surgeries include: open and laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass; laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy; laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, including Allergan Lap Band and Realize Band; and revisional surgery. He has been performing bariatric surgery in Northeastern Ohio since 2002 and has had patients travel from all over the country for his expertise.

Courtney Holbrook, PhD
Courtney Holbrook, PhDPROGRAM MANAGER
Courtney has eighteen years of experience as a bariatric program psychologist and as a program manager since 2009. It is her job to ensure the office runs smoothly and that your needs are met in a timely and pleasant manner. She also conducts pre- and post-operative education and support groups.
Cindy Pund, RN
Cindy works with pre-operative patients ensuring that they meet the bariatric surgery requirements necessary for insurance approval. She also helps coordinate referrals and medical clearances to ensure all patients have a safe operation. Cindy is a RN who has both a strong medical background and a thorough understanding of bariatric surgery and pre-op process.
Nicole Thompson
Nicole ThompsonDIETITIAN
Nicole works with both pre- and post-operative patients. Prior to surgery, she provides diet education to patients in individual and group settings. She helps patients set dietary and behavioral goals as they move toward a healthier lifestyle. She also provides dietary instruction to patients after surgery and conducts post-operative support groups. Her favorite part of her job is seeing patients transform into healthier, happier individuals. “It is truly a fulfilling and rewarding job!”
Abby Saponaro
Abby SaponaroDIETITIAN
Abby completed her master’s degree and dietetic internship from Case Western Reserve University in 2015. Abby is extremely passionate about helping her patients achieve success with their health and weight loss goals. She understands every person is unique and deserves individualized care and support. Abby loves using her expertise and creativity to help patients implement a variety of strategies so they can follow a nutritious and delicious diet for life!
Stephanie DeNardo
Stephanie enjoys encouraging people throughout their pre-operative process and celebrating with them as they succeed post-operatively.

She enjoys walking outdoors in all four of Cleveland’s seasons and doing sunshine yoga in the summer months. She and her family recently adopted a senior cat.

Stephanie would like to travel to Alaska in the future.

Shannon Gonzalez
Shannon has worked in health care for over 15 years. She enjoys meeting patients and being a part of the Lake Health Bariatric Surgery Center team.
Mihaela Donca, MD
Mihaela Donca, MDINTERNIST
Dr. Donca earned her medical degree from Cluj Napoca Medical University in Romania and completed her residency in internal medicine at Huron Road Hospital. She is board certified. Dr. Donca will meet with patients in the Bariatric Surgery Center 3-4 times prior to having their surgery. She also is available post-operation to consult with Dr. Ben-Meir and answer any questions the patient or family may have.