April 21st, 2017
Steve Shank knows what it's like to face an uphill climb. Despite being legally blind and affected by albinism, he has been an avid bicyclist for years, competing in 100-mile rides on the rolling hills of Iowa. The arduous contests challenged Steve physically and mentally, giving the Iowa City native an ability to endure difficult situations.
Beginning in 2015, that endurance was put to the test — one that tried every ounce of strength Steve had. In the fall of that year, he discovered his lungs were failing due to the same mutated gene that caused his blindness and albinism. His only chance of survival was a double-lung transplant. [...]
April 18th, 2017
Fritz Kruger of Hayward, Wisconsin, wondered how breathing pure oxygen while enclosed in a pressurized tube could heal his body. Fritz, 56, suffered from side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer when he was referred for hyperbaric oxygen therapy in fall 2016.
A U.S. Air Force veteran who served from 1986 to 1995, including in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Fritz was treated for cancer at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Health Care System. He had his prostate removed in 2012, followed by radiation treatments. As of August 2016, Fritz was showing no signs of cancer, but the radiation had taken a toll on his body.
"I had blood in my urine," says Fritz, who also was feeling other painful effects. "There was so much scar tissue that they couldn't find the opening from my kidneys into my bladder."
April 13th, 2017
To the delight of everyone who knows 3-year-old Rayna Speary, her head is perfectly round and smooth and average size.
Given that the youngster was diagnosed and treated for an extremely rare brain tumor that caused her head to balloon in size as a 4-month-old, and that she underwent a dramatic surgery at Mayo Clinic to remove a substantial growth that occupied nearly half of her brain space, a perfect aesthetic of her head was not guaranteed. In fact, much about Rayna's development — including her very survival — wasn't assured. [...]
April 11th, 2017
It was a quiet, rainy morning in 2002 at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Minnesota. Kim DeBolt was staying at the hospitality house while recovering from a stem cell transplant at Mayo Clinic to treat acute myelogenous leukemia. Family members were often with her at the house, but Kim was alone that day, and she felt blue. Gazing out her window, she saw on the sidewalk a smartly dressed woman, briefcase in hand, holding an umbrella, heading downtown.
"As I watched her walk by, I thought, 'I want to do that, too. I want to have a normal day, get up in the morning and walk to work. And I want to work for Mayo Clinic,'" Kim says. "I never forgot that moment. I kept it in the back of my mind for a long time." [...]
April 7th, 2017
Owning a successful financial planning firm for 20 years taught Terrance McMahon to plan for the future and for the unexpected. On May 26, 2016, all those years of planning became critical for Terrance.
That day, heart palpitations sent him to a local hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he lived. Although he thought he was having a heart attack, he admits later that he hadn't felt well for the previous six months.
"My eyes were bloodshot," Terrance says. "I was jaundiced, and I had bruises."
Blood tests at the emergency room indicated Terrance had severely deteriorated liver function.
"The doctor said I could die that night," Terrance says. "I went from being on top of the world to being told, 'You might not make it.'"
April 6th, 2017
"I've photographed over a thousand weddings in my life," says Darrell, who owns his own studio based in Fargo, North Dakota. "A lot of photographers don't like the pressure. There is no second chance, so you have to be confident. You can't make any mistakes. I like the challenge."
April 5th, 2017
The surgical teams assembled to operate on Mayo Clinic's most complex patients lately have begun to consist of more than living, breathing members. The new recruits are usually small enough to hold in your hand, and they don't say a word. But the information conveyed by these 3D anatomical printed models is helping surgeons plan and navigate the trickiest of procedures.
In late 2016, Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeon Mark Allen, M.D. was part of a surgical team that used a 3D printed model to help them prepare to remove a rare, intrusive pancoast tumor. The tumor had grown in the chest of a patient, between his ribs and among the vessels just above his lungs.
March 31st, 2017
Maikki Nekton was 32 years old when she had a life-saving liver transplant, thanks to her good friend, Jenifer DeMattia, who donated a portion of her own liver to Maikki.
Prior to the transplant, Maikki worked as a clinical social worker in the Maryland school system and for nonprofit organizations. Jenifer was her co-worker, and they became fast friends. Long-distance running was a shared passion, with the two women participating in 10K races and half-marathons whenever possible.
In April 2014, while training, Maikki began experiencing pain in her right hip. It was diagnosed as a stress fracture, which doctors said was rare for someone so young. [...]
March 30th, 2017
For years, Rosa Isern has thoroughly enjoyed her job with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, where soldiers, airmen and their families purchase goods and services. Her work has taken her around the world on several tours overseas, including stints in Iraq, Afghanistan, Greenland and Djibouti.
In 2015, however, Rosa's future became uncertain when she learned she had a large colon polyp that was at risk to become cancerous. Doctors thought they might need to remove part of her colon. But thanks to a minimally invasive procedure available at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, Rosa was able to have the threatening polyp successfully removed without surgery. That allowed her to get back to doing the work she loves. [...]
March 27th, 2017
Jack Cawthon unabashedly brags about the secret sauce that is a hallmark of his renowned barbeque restaurant in Nashville, Tennesse, Jack's Bar-B-Que, where tourists and locals line up for Texas brisket and Tennessee pork shoulder.
The iconic sauce remains a family secret and a vital part of the landmark restaurant located on the honkytonk strip on lower Broadway in downtown Nashville. These days, however, the Barbeque King is a fan of a whole different kind of secret sauce.
March 24th, 2017
Just four months after being in a coma, Mike Short was crawling through tunnels, jumping over fiery logs, and scaling walls as part of a 5K race known as a "rugged maniac." The Georgia native owes his ability to participate in the race to the neurocritical care team at Mayo Clinic that helped him recover from a brain injury he suffered shortly after his 50th birthday.
Diagnosed with a seizure disorder in childhood, Mike had had only a handful of grand mal seizures in his life. But on April 9, 2016, while visiting a friend in Blackshear, Georgia, he had another. It was his first in 10 years. The seizure caused Mike to fall and hit his head. He was transported to a local hospital where he had another seizure.
“I aspirated everything into my lungs and passed out due to lack of oxygen,” Mike recalls being told.
March 23rd, 2017
As much as she’d like to forget Sept. 15, 2016, it's a day Julie George will never be able to erase from her memory. That day, the Eau Claire, Wisconsin, woman’s 21-year-old son, Dylan Walling, was riding his motorcycle on a highway en route to his grandmother’s house when the unthinkable occurred.
A slow-moving manure spreader had caused a traffic backup. Dylan passed three cars and then collided with the farm vehicle as it began to turn left into a field. Although he was wearing a helmet, it wasn’t enough to protect him. The right side of Dylan’s body took the impact, leaving him seriously injured. His liver split in two. He had a kidney laceration, a head injury, a broken femur and forearm, an ankle injury and a collapsed lung. His foot was broken, his heel pad torn, and his toes were broken so badly they were almost severed.
March 17th, 2017
Today, Greta Stamper, Au.D., Ph.D., is a doctor of audiology in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. But her connection to Mayo Clinic dates all the way back to her childhood.
Growing up in Iowa, Dr. Stamper was introduced to Mayo at age 10, when her parents took her to see Michael Schultz, Au.D., an audiologist in the Mayo Clinic Health System. Diagnosed with a bilateral sensorineural hearing loss at age 8, she had made many visits to hearing health care professionals before she met Dr. Schultz. But he was different.
March 15th, 2017
When Heather Spaniol woke up from the first of many surgeries to rid her body of a life-threatening infection that was decimating her tissues, the gratitude she felt toward the Mayo Clinic surgeons who’d saved her life was so strong, she didn’t even register how much trauma her body had sustained.
“I think I was in shock. I was like, ‘You’re all so great! I just appreciate everything you’re doing. It’s fine,’” says Heather, a mother of two from Rochester, Minnesota. It was June 2014, and she'd lost a major nerve and most of her right shoulder muscle, in addition to epidermal tissue on the back and front of her right side, to necrotizing fasciitis.
March 13th, 2017
Kraig Gresham was 47 years old when he received his heart transplant, but his journey to that life-changing surgery began years earlier. Kraig was born with aortic stenosis — a birth defect that causes heart valves to narrow and obstruct blood flow. As a child he had heart problems as a result of his condition. Despite that, Kraig was able to lead an active lifestyle, participating in sports like soccer and racquetball from the time he was young.
As an adult, Kraig knew he would eventually need a valve replacement due to his chronic heart condition. But when he began having bronchitis-like symptoms in his 40s, he was referred to Mayo Clinic with a more immediate problem: he was experiencing heart failure.
March 7th, 2017
Barry Connell couldn’t be happier to have his wife of 53 years, Maureen, back.
Though the couple spent 16 years traveling cross-country after Barry retired as president of a manufacturing company in Connecticut, nothing prepared them for the difficult journey they would embark on when Maureen’s health began to decline rapidly in 2015.
For the first five months of that year, The Villages, Florida, resident noticed his normally lively wife wasn’t as alert as she used to be. She was also much slower to respond to situations. Then, on Mother’s Day, Maureen collapsed in the bathroom of the restaurant where their family was celebrating.
That incident led to months of debilitating symptoms for Maureen, along with a series of ineffective treatments. No one could explain what was happening to her. In desperation, the Connells turned to Mayo Clinic, where they were able to finally find the source of Maureen’s problem — hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain.
“After struggling with this for three months, we got a preliminary diagnosis less than 24 hours after arriving at Mayo,” Barry says. [...]
March 2nd, 2017
Morgan Burke spent years urging her father, Tony Burke, to make a doctor's appointment. When Tony was 12 years old, he had open-heart surgery at Mayo Clinic to repair aortic stenosis. But as an adult, the 48-year-old avoided most medical care.
"I'm just that type. I don't go to the doctor ever — unless I'm dead," says the farmer from Plainview, Minnesota.
March 1st, 2017
— Written by Sanan Malkadjian
I was only 14 at the time. I would be ashamed of myself because of how often my stomach hurt. It came to a point where no one would believe the excruciating pain I was facing. This was pain unlike no other.
My doctors here in Michigan would blame one another. They told me it was my menstrual cycle, or I was stressing out too much, or even that I had too many bladder infections. Every single time, I was misdiagnosed.
February 27th, 2017
In April 2005, nine months after retiring from his job as assistant superintendent of Osseo School District in Maple Grove, Minnesota, James Boddie had a heart attack while riding his bike in Florida. When he arrived by helicopter at a local hospital in Bonita Springs, he was told he had 100 percent blockage in his arteries.
James had no history of heart disease — at least none that he knew of.
February 24th, 2017
Thomas Hoffman of Spearfish, South Dakota, was 56 years old, weighed 235, and had been diagnosed with prediabetes when he began to diet. As the pounds melted away, his wife became alarmed at his rapid weight loss. Then one morning, he awoke and his wife told him he was completely yellow — not from the sun streaming into the bedroom, but from jaundice. Thomas went to a local emergency room.
“The doctor comes in and gives us the news: ‘You have pancreatic cancer. You’ve got six months to live. Get your stuff together,’” Thomas says. “What do you do?”