CHICAGO (CBS) — Mercy Hospital & Medical Center has launched a contest with an unusual prize: free lap-band weight loss surgery.

“Just write us and tell us why do you think you need this,” said Dr. Rami Lutfi, director of Mercy’s lap-band program.

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Lutfi said the surgery has been successful for many patients struggling with obesity.

“We do not divide or cut the stomach. We place simply a band around the top of the stomach to slow down the food going through, and limit the amount that patients would want to eat.”

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The operation is less invasive than gastric bypass surgery, and is reversible.

Since surgery alone isn’t enough to alter lifestyles, Lutfi said the prize will include a one-year gym membership and follow-up care.

Those interested can submit a photo and an essay of no more than 500 words, explaining why they deserve the operation. The deadline to enter is July 31.

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You can find out more on Mercy Hospital’s Facebook page or at their website.