Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

February 27th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Perfume Maker Gets Her Sense of Smell Back  

By Hoyt Finnamore

Kim Spadaro at work in her perfume studio. Kim Spadaro tells stories through scent. She travels the world capturing unique olfactory experiences and bottling them for others to share. "My experience [in these places] is really what turns it into a fragrance," she says. "I can tell you how something smells in a story."

That, of course, requires a keen sense of smell.

Kim used her talent and refined sense of smell to found Spadaro Luxury Fragrances and make a living capturing scents from around the world. Medical issues nearly derailed that and put an end to her perfuming days.  [...]

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Tags: Brain Tumor, Dr Robert Wharen, neurosurgery

February 24th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Gratitude, and the Voice of Experience

By Hoyt Finnamore

Mark-Pearce-WebMark Pearce jokes that, "If something's going to happen, it's going to happen to me." That sentiment isn't hard to understand in someone who has had eight joint replacements (knees, hips and shoulders – some more than once), has been cardioverted 18 times to restore normal heart rhythm, and had surgery for a brain tumor. Among other things. What may be harder to understand is how he's kept an amazingly positive attitude through it all.

For Mark, it starts with gratitude.

"I feel like being treated like royalty here," he says of his experience at Mayo Clinic. "It's amazing. And if there's any way that I could say thank you to the physicians here and to the complete staff … I wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for you."

Mark came to Mayo Clinic in the 1980s for a procedure physicians in his home state of Michigan were hesitant to perform because of his prior neck fractures. At Mayo Clinic, he found physicians who were able to perform the procedure and manage things when his care got complicated. Since then, he's had his left knee replaced twice, and the right, once; three hip replacements; and two shoulder replacements. Brain surgery. Cardioversion and heart procedures. And a gastric bypass procedure to combat the weight gain cause by his pituitary tumor. [...]

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Tags: hip replacement, Knee Replacement, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Rochester Campus, Shoulder Replacement

February 20th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

World Record Skydiver Credits 'Sam' for the Ability to Live Life at 100 mph

By Paul Scotti

Kim Dobson, 63, of Oveido, Florida, skydiving.

He’s a former Green Beret who served in Somalia. He’s a record-holding skydiver with several thousand jumps under his belt since he began leaping out of airplanes at age 18. And he’s a liver transplant recipient, who affectionately refers to his transplanted organ as “Sam.”

Kim Dobson, 63, of Oveido, Florida, is the definition of someone who lives life to the fullest. He not only participates in national and international skydiving competitions, but also scuba dives, plays golf, and enjoys shooting sports. With both a sports and military background, he was active, fit and the picture of health. But that all changed in 1994, after knee surgery and after undergoing a series of tests for back pain. Told he had elevated liver enzymes, Kim was eventually diagnosed with type 3 hepatitis C. Surprised but confident he could beat his disease and resume his active lifestyle, he went through three cycles/47 weeks of interferon treatments at a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.


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Tags: Florida Campus, Hepatitis C, liver transplant, transplantation

February 19th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Breaking Away From Pain With the Help of 'The Scrambler'

By Hoyt Finnamore

KarenSafranek1000Participating in a clinical trial gave Karen Safranek a solution to her decade-long struggle with peripheral neuropathy 

Karen Safranek didn't take a worry-free step for 10 years. Severe peripheral neuropathy — a side effect of breast cancer treatment she received in 2002 — left her with constant burning, tingling, numbness and pain in both her feet.

Over time, Karen tried dozens of treatments to rid herself of the discomfort. Nothing worked. So in 2012 when she found out about a clinical research trial available at Mayo Clinic for people who had peripheral neuropathy after chemotherapy, she was interested, but not optimistic.

"I tried so many things. Anything a doctor recommended or heard about, or anything I heard about, I'd give it a try if I could," Karen says. "But years past, and the pain didn't get any better. By 2011, life was not good. I was analyzing my house to figure out where we could put a wheelchair ramp. At that time, I thought it wouldn't be much longer before I couldn't walk anymore."  [...]

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Peripheral Neuropathy, Rochester Campus

February 18th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Faith and Mayo Clinic Help Cancer Survivor Overcome Multiple Health Battles

By Paul Scotti

Mayo Clinic patient Donald Jones, of Ponte Vedra, Florida, with his wife.

Mayo Clinic patient Donald Jones, of Ponte Vedra, Florida, with his wife, Beth.

When 53-year-old Donald Jones of Ponte Vedra, Florida, found out he had lung cancer, the former smoker accepted it as a challenge that he was prepared to fight and win. Little did he know the other serious health issues that lay ahead, which would create serious new challenges for him over the next year.

An avid golfer and hiker, Donald could tell something wasn’t right with his breathing after a hiking trip to the Smoky Mountains in 2013. A visit to his physician resulted in tests that showed a spot on his lung. It was cancer. He called Mayo Clinic for an appointment with a pulmonologist. There, he was told he’d need surgery to remove the lung tumor. For about three months after the surgery, everything seemed fine, and he was fortunate not to require additional radiation or chemotherapy to prevent recurrence of his cancer.

What came next began a series of medical events that would threaten even the most optimistic patient’s resolve. [...]

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Tags: Brain Tumor, cancer, Florida Campus, Lung Cancer

February 6th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Patient, Staffer Run Phoenix 10K Together

By Hoyt Finnamore

Don Salamone  and Linda Staley run in 10K race. Mayo Clinic patient Don Salamone is proof that being in great shape before undergoing a heart transplant can enhance recovery. Even while tethered to a ventricular assist device that kept his heart functioning until the transplant surgery, he pushed himself to work out on a stationary bike for two hours daily and walked several miles on a treadmill.

While he could handily beat the competition in races before he received the implanted device, he couldn’t beat viral cardiomyopathy, which makes it harder for your heart to pump and deliver blood to the rest of your body, and can lead to heart failure.

Don underwent his heart transplant surgery in October 2012. True to his mission, he spent only eight days in the hospital following the surgery.

“I made a pledge to be in good shape before the surgery and to always honor my responsibility to my donor to take care of this heart,” Don says. As a result, within days of his surgery, he was up early, walking laps, training and eventually competing in numerous runs in Arizona and elsewhere.

Fast forward to Jan. 16, 2015. Now close to age 60, Don was living his promise. He was at the 10K starting line at the popular P.F. Chang’s Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Phoenix, where some 30,000 athletes participated.  [...]

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Tags: Arizona Campus, cardiomyopathy, Heart Transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

February 2nd, 2015 · Leave a Comment

An Extension of the Heart

By Hoyt Finnamore

Marla Burkhart with her son, Noah.Marla Burkhart’s heart was functioning at roughly 30 percent when she was rushed to the hospital for an emergency cesarean section eight weeks before the due date of her first child. After she and her husband had chosen a name for their child, she placed her faith in her heart and the support of a network of family, friends, co-workers and Mayo Clinic staff, as baby Noah was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, and Marla, to the Critical Cardiac Care Unit.

Just three hours prior to the surgery, Marla had been diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare pregnancy-related heart condition. Occurring in roughly 1 in 3,000 deliveries, it is the result of an enlarged, weakened heart. The condition is generally diagnosed during the last months of pregnancy and causes inefficient blood circulation.

Marla originally thought her symptoms were just normal changes resulting from her pregnancy. Even when her legs gave out at eight weeks, she shrugged it off. She had problems sleeping due to shortness of breath, and she eventually had to sleep upright.

Marla switched to Mayo Clinic from another provider in the middle of her pregnancy because she had struggled with becoming pregnant in the past and says she wanted the best possible care. At her 32-week appointment, she described her continued discomfort to her physician. An ECG revealed an abnormality. She was shocked by the diagnosis. [...]

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Tags: cardiomyopathy, Go Red for Women, Heart Month, NICU

January 27th, 2015 · Leave a Comment

Surviving Hepatitis C -- A Patient’s Journey Through Two Liver Transplants

By Paul Scotti

Mayo Clinic patient Nellie Betancourt (left) with her husband Marcelo Castro on the Mayo Clinic in Florida campus January 2015.

Mayo Clinic patient Nellie Betancourt (left) with her husband Marcelo Castro on Mayo Clinic's Florida campus in January 2015.


For most organ transplant recipients, receiving the “gift of life” is a one-time experience. But for Nellie Betancourt, battling the hepatitis C virus that had been in hiding in her body for years required another “second chance at life,” thanks to a second generous donor and a new generation of anti-viral drugs.

Betancourt, a 56-year-old mother of two and grandmother of seven from Puerto Rico, was first diagnosed with elevated liver enzymes during a routine exam in 1995. Further testing revealed a positive result for the hepatitis C virus, which resulted in several rounds of standard anti-viral drug treatments over the next several years, none of which were successful in effectively managing her disease. This began a 20-year battle with hepatitis C that was to eventually include two liver transplants performed at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

“By 2002, I was told that my liver enzymes were rapidly increasing, and that I’d eventually need a liver transplant or face liver failure,” says Betancourt. “I was only 42 years old at the time.” [...]

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Tags: liver transplant, transplant, Florida Campus

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