Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

March 23rd, 2017

Dylan Walling Survives Crash and Exceed Expectations in Recovery

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Severe injuries from a motorcycle crash left Dylan Walling fighting for his life. But a care team at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, put the 21-year-old on the road to recovery.

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.

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Tags: Dr David Ciresi, Dr James Banich, emergency medicine, Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

March 17th, 2017

Hearing Loss Spurs Doctor to Pay it Forward

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Inspired by physicians who cared for her as a young child with hearing loss, Dr. Greta Stamper used that experience as a springboard to a career as an audiologist and a teacher for others following the same path.

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.

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Tags: Audiology, Dr Greta Stamper, Hearing Loss, Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, otorhinolaryngology

March 15th, 2017

Keen Eye and Quick Action Save Rochester Mom From Life-Threatening Infection

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

When Heather Spaniol contracted the severe skin infection necrotizing fasciitis, an immediate and expert response was required to save her life. Since then, a blend of traditional and complementary therapies has bolstered her recovery.

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.

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Tags: Cupping, Dr Daniel Price, Dr Mark Enzler, Hyperbaric oxygen chamber, Infectious Disease, Nectrotizing fasciitis, otolaryngology

March 13th, 2017

Heart Transplant Puts an Active Athlete Back in Action

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Living with a chronic heart condition, Kraig Gresham knew he would eventually need surgery to replace a heart valve. He didn’t anticipate a heart transplant. But his care team at Mayo Clinic helped him through it, and today he’s back in the swing of an active life.

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.

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Tags: heart transplant, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, organ donation, ventricular assist device

March 7th, 2017

Teamwork Gives Maureen Connell an Accurate Diagnosis and Much-Needed Relief From Hydrocephalus

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After enduring months of unexplained symptoms that left her unable to walk, Maureen Connell found the answer to her puzzling medical condition at Mayo Clinic.

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.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Betty Kim, hydrocephalus, neurosurgery, Transverse myelitis

March 2nd, 2017

Daughter’s Persistence Leads to Discovery of a Life-Threatening Aortic Aneurysm

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

When Morgan Burke persuaded her father, Tony, to see a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic, she never imagined it would lead to heart surgery that would save his life.

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.

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Tags: Aortic Aneurysm, Cardiovascular Diseases, Dr Alberto Pochettino, Dr Heidi Connolly, Dr Joseph Maalouf

March 1st, 2017

After Years of Pain, a Clear Diagnosis Restores a Teen’s Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Sanan Malkadjian came to Mayo Clinic after suffering for years from mysterious bouts of severe stomach pain. Her care team at Mayo was able to arrive at the right diagnosis and get her the treatment she needed.

— 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.

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Tags: Clinical Genomics, Dr Magnus Halland, Familial Mediterranean Fever, gastroenterology

February 27th, 2017

Battling an Autoimmune Disorder Changes James Boddie’s Retirement Plans

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A multidisciplinary team of experts at Mayo Clinic has come up with a unique way to treat sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the heart. For James Boddie, that innovative approach has made a world of difference.

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.

“They did a catheterization and implanted two stents, which saved my life,” he says. [...]

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Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, Dr Leslie Cooper, sarcoidosis

February 24th, 2017

Slaying the Dragon of Pancreatic Cancer

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Pioneering a new method for treating pancreatic cancer, Mayo Clinic surgical oncologist Dr. Mark Truty is improving his patients’ odds of beating this much-feared disease.

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?”

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Tags: Dr Mark Truty, pancreatic cancer

February 23rd, 2017

Mitral Clip Gets a Fisherman Back on the Water

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A leaky mitral valve in his heart was making life difficult for Bob Hamme. But minimally invasive surgery to place a mitral clip solved the problem and allowed Bob to get back to the activities he enjoys.

Fishing has been a big part of 83-year-old Bob Hamme's life since he was a child.

"I just enjoy being out on the water or near water and fishing, just being with nature," he says.

After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure due a leaky mitral valve, Bob was not only unable to enjoy fishing, he had a hard time with everyday activities. His heart condition was causing a buildup of fluid in his lungs, as well as his legs and feet.

"I became increasingly out of breath," Bob says. "I didn't have the energy I had all along."

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Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, congestive heart failure, Dr Peter Pollak, Mitral Valve Clip

February 22nd, 2017

Innovative Multiple Myeloma Care Renews a Pilot’s Energy and Outlook

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Harold Rogers was an air traffic controller and corporate jet pilot before a diagnosis of multiple myeloma.At 81 years old, Harold Rogers has had quite a ride. For 30 years, the St. Mary’s, Georgia, resident was an air traffic controller and corporate jet pilot. But nothing prepared Harold for a diagnosis in early 2009 of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells inside bone marrow, which is considered incurable.

“I’d never heard of multiple myeloma. My primary care doctor said, ‘The good news is that it’s treatable. But it’s not curable,’” Harold says. “He then recommended I go to a cancer specialist.”

Harold opted to stay close to home and began chemotherapy in February 2009. When the treatment was over several months later, he was left with side effects that prompted him to get an evaluation at a different health care facility. That’s when he turned to Mayo Clinic.  [...]

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Tags: chemotherapy, Dr Lawrence Solberg, Dr Sikander Ailawadhi, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, multiple myeloma

February 17th, 2017

New Weight-Loss Device Helps Mark Harlan Improve His Health

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A new approach to reducing obesity not only helped Mark Harlan drop the excess weight he’d been carrying for years, it improved his overall health and wellness.

Mark Harlan tried diets. He tried exercise. He modified his behavior and his lifestyle. Yet nothing worked to keep off extra weight that had plagued him for years. Nothing worked, that is, until Mark underwent a cutting-edge procedure designed to help those who don’t qualify for gastric bypass surgery to shed excess pounds.

In 2015, Mark was the first person in the nation to receive the Obera intragastric balloon. The grapefruit-sized, saline-filled, silicone balloon was placed and inflated in Mark’s stomach during a minimally invasive, outpatient endoscopic surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus.

In the six months Mark had the balloon — the device was removed during a second endoscopic procedure — he lost 30 pounds, or about 15 percent of his body weight, says Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Barham Abu Dayyeh, M.D.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Barham Abu Dayyeh, Dr Christopher Gostout, Intragastic balloon

February 15th, 2017

Local Politician Doesn’t Skip a Beat With Mechanical Heart Pump

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Heart failure threatened to derail Junior Boatright’s busy life, but a left ventricular assist device has helped him get back on track while he waits for a heart transplant.

While Walter “Junior” Boatright was running for a second term as Nassau county commissioner in northeast Florida in November 2012, he started to feel winded. At first, he chalked it up to getting older and just not having the same energy he used to, while campaigning 15 hours a day.

But after the campaign was over, and he had won the election, the Callahan, Florida, native says he was out of breath just walking out to the mailbox.

“It was like I had run down the road and back,” Junior says. “I knew something wasn’t right.”

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Tags: Cardiac Rehabilitation, Dr Daniel Yip, Dr Jeffrey Hosenpud, Dr Kevin Landolfo, heart failure, Heart Failure Clinic, Left Ventricular Assist Device, lvad

February 13th, 2017

Skillful Spine Surgery Gets Rid of a Rare Tumor and Keeps Mike LaBorde on His Feet

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Mike LaBorde came to Mayo Clinic facing a daunting diagnosis and high-risk spine surgery. But through the care and expertise of his Mayo Clinic surgical team, today Mike’s back to business as usual.

For more than a year, Mike LaBorde thought he had carpal tunnel syndrome. His left hand and arm often tingled and felt numb. He wore a brace for a while, but it didn’t help. Then he had carpal tunnel surgery, not once, but twice. The surgeries made no difference.

“I was quite aggravated that the surgery was not successful,” Mike says. “But I was told that nothing is 100 percent guaranteed. I just kept working and doing the best I could. And it kept getting worse and worse.”

When the symptoms didn’t fade, Mike’s primary care doctor suspected a herniated disc, so Mike had an MRI. What that test revealed changed everything. [...]

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Tags: Dr Mohamad Bydon, neurosurgery

February 10th, 2017

Playing Piano Again After Stroke Is Music to Judith Johnson’s Ears

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Successful treatment at Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center in Florida prevented Judith Johnson from suffering long-term complications from a stroke and preserved her treasured piano-playing skills.

In October 2016, Judith Johnson, Ph.D. — who is retired from the library at Florida State College at Jacksonville — was at home recovering from back surgery. While she was sitting in bed talking on the phone with a friend, something suddenly went wrong. Judith felt herself sliding in between the bed and the nightstand. Though Judith doesn’t recall what she said, her friend realized something was happening, hung up, and immediately called 911 and called Judith’s son.

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Tags: Comprehensive Stroke Center, Dr Benjamin Brown, stroke

February 7th, 2017

Liver Transplant Gives Jacksonville Man New Hope, Twice

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

As a two-time liver transplant recipient, Richard Parker is exceptionally grateful to his donors and their families and gives credit to his team at Mayo Clinic for his renewed health.

There is no doubt in Richard Parker’s mind that he’s been given not one, but two new leases on life because of Mayo Clinic.

Richard underwent a liver transplant in 2007 at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus. For years after that, all was well. But then, in 2016, his transplanted liver failed, and he turned to Mayo Clinic once again. A second transplant now has him back on his feet and extremely grateful to his donors and his care team. [...]

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Tags: Dr C Burcin Taner, Dr David Lee, liver transplant, Liver Transplant Program

February 3rd, 2017

Astounding Recovery for an 8-Year-Old Boy Shot by an Arrow

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Accidentally shot with an arrow that severed his spinal cord, Curtis Bressler’s doctors feared he’d never walk again. But Curtis proved them wrong. Today, he’s back to walking, running and jumping, just like any other 8-year-old boy.

It’s a story that plays out like a Hollywood movie. A young boy is accidentally struck by an arrow and narrowly escapes death. The arrow pierces the 8-year-old’s backbone and splits his spinal cord. He’s paralyzed from the waist down, and his doctors fear he’ll never walk again. But remarkably, the story has a happy ending.

It's not a script, however. It's the story of Curtis Bressler, of Truman, Minnesota, who was injured last fall when an arrow shot by his teenage brother ricocheted off the target and hit Curtis instead. [...]

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Tags: Child and Adolescent Neurology, Dr Denise Klinkner, Dr Nicholas Wetjen, emergency medicine, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

February 1st, 2017

14-Year-Old Writes the Book on Beating the Odds

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

When Nate Munene Kirera came to Mayo Clinic, he had seizures almost every day and was debilitated by the side effects of medication to treat his condition. After working with his Neurology care team, his seizures are under control, and he’s thriving.

Nathaniel Kirera wasn’t expected to survive birth. When he did, then he wasn’t expected to live to see his first birthday, much less his 14th. He also wasn’t supposed to be able learn, let alone write a book. But he’s done all that, and today his medical odyssey is behind him.

That Nate has achieved so much despite having multicystic hydrocephalus, a condition in which half of his brain and its fluid drainage system formed abnormally, is no surprise to his mother Ann Makena, who, while she was pregnant, dreamed of a son walking and talking.

“The doctor said. ‘I’ve seen very bad conditions, but I’ve never seen anything this bad,’” Ann says. “I said, ‘It’s not that I don’t trust you … but I really felt very confident about this child. I said, ‘No I’m just going to leave it up to God.’”

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Tags: Child and Adolescent Neurology, Dr Katherine Nickels, Dr Nicholas Wetjen, hydrocephalus

January 30th, 2017

Rare Heart Condition Turns Young Athlete into Advocate

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Joe Meyer became an advocate after heart surgery. Growing up, Joe Meyer loved sports. In elementary school, he played basketball and baseball. The summer before he entered eighth grade, the Jacksonville, Florida, youth decided to give football a try.

Before he took to the gridiron, Joe visited his pediatrician for sports physical. At that appointment, his doctor noticed a heart murmur. Joe, then 14, couldn’t be cleared to play until he went to a cardiologist.

In August 2011, after seeing a pediatric cardiologist and having an echocardiogram and stress test, Joe was diagnosed with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM — an incurable disease, usually caused by gene mutations, in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick.

The diagnosis took Joe away from sports and other physical activity for several years. [...]

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Tags: American Heart Association, Congenital Heart Disease, Dr Mohamad Yamani, Hypertrophic Cardiomypathy, Septal Myectomy

January 26th, 2017

Paired Kidney Donation Opens the Door to a More Active, Independent Life for Kathy Allen

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Cathy Allen got a second chance through paired kidney donation. From Kathy Allen’s point of view, paired organ donation just may be the ultimate in generosity. Deciding to donate a kidney to someone you don’t know in a paired exchange can trigger a chain of matches that gives several people the opportunity for a renewed life.

“I can’t thank the donors enough for their selflessness,” says Kathy. “It takes a truly altruistic person to step up.”

Kathy, who lives in St. Peter, Minnesota, benefitted from the generosity of a family friend who volunteered to donate a kidney to her in March 2015. That individual was not a match for Kathy, but he was a match for someone else. Meanwhile, a woman from Illinois whose husband needed a kidney was a match for Kathy. And thus began a paired exchange at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus that, in the end, helped 10 people receive new, healthy kidneys.  [...]

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Tags: kidney failure, kidney transplant, Paired Organ Donation

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