Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

September 24th, 2016

Liver Transplant Allows Young Father to Be There for His Family

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Thanks to a living-donor liver transplant at Mayo Clinic, Bryan Duncan overcame a life-threatening liver disease and has been able to return to life with his young family.

Bryan Duncan didn’t think twice about the lab tests he had as part of a routine medical checkup in the fall of 2014. A 29-year-old father of two small children, Bryan led a busy life, didn’t have any health problems, and felt fine.

When the test results came back, though, they showed enzyme levels in Bryan’s liver were higher than normal. This unexpected finding kicked off more than two years of extensive medical care. It brought Bryan from his hometown of Mountain View, Arkansas, to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, where he was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, and where he eventually received a life-saving living-donor liver transplant.

“The way my disease works, if I had waited for a deceased donor, I probably would have been too sick for a transplant,” Bryan says. “Being able to have a living-donor transplant opened up the opportunity for me to get the second chance I needed.” [...]

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Tags: Dr Nicholas LaRusso, gastroenterology, Hepatology, liver transplant, Living Donor Transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

September 17th, 2016

Brothers Bond Over Kidney Disease, Transplant

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

The Berry Brother share more than blood after a kidney transplant. Scott Berry is one of five children. But he and his youngest sibling, David, share a very unique bond — a kidney, to be exact. On April 12, 2016, David gave his older brother a second chance at life by donating one of his kidneys to Scott for a transplant.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Martin Mai, Florida Campus, IgA Nephropathy, kidney transplant, living donor, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

September 17th, 2016

Artist Back at the Drawing Board After A Stroke

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

bobgessner805Shirley and Bob Gessner have weathered some tough times during their 56 years of marriage. But nothing could have prepared Shirley for the night of April 10, 2015, when she awoke at 3:30 a.m. to a thud — the sound of her husband falling out of bed.

“I asked him what was the matter, but Bob couldn’t talk. He couldn’t move, and I couldn’t get him up,” says Shirley about her husband, a former advertising executive and designer of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins logos. “I called 911 right away.”

The ambulance took Bob, 82, to the hospital closest to his home in St. Augustine, Florida, where doctors confirmed he was having a stroke.  [...]

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Tags: Comprehensive Stroke Center, Dr David A Miller, Florida Campus, stroke, Thrombectomy, tPA, atrial fibrillation, Diabetes

September 10th, 2016

Persevering Through Brain Cancer, Travis McGinnis Remains Upbeat and Optimistic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Travis McGinnis rings bell after cancer treatment. Travis McGinnis was just 30 years old when an insidious cancer was discovered in his brain. It had been growing there for some time, he says — his physicians estimated between five and 10 years. Had the stage-three oligoastrocytoma not been detected when it was, Travis would have likely lost his life. As it happened, thanks to care and treatment provided by neurologists and neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus, the only solid thing the father of three lost to the cancer was a fist-sized piece of his brain.

While having cancer was something he never wanted, Travis says the experience gave him insights and gifts he would not have otherwise realized: deep appreciation for his family and friends, gratitude for the present, and faith in strangers who generously supported him.

“Sometimes I’ll sit and think about everything I’ve been through, and it moves me to tears,” Travis says. “I’m alive and better for it. I wish I never would’ve had to go through it, but at least it wasn’t for nothing.” [...]

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Tags: brain tumor, Glioma, Hope Lodge, Neurology & Neurosurgery, neurosurgery, oligoastrocytoma, radiation therapy

September 9th, 2016

Why I Walk: Alexandra Abreu-Figueroa

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Alexandra Abreu Figueroa (right), pictured with her mother Lyana Figueroa-Soto, is inspired by the First Coast Heart Walk to improve her fitness and tackle a family struggle with weight.

Editor’s note: In this article, Alexandra Abreu-Figueroa, an intern in Public Affairs at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, shares her story and discusses why she participates in the First Coast Heart Walk, an annual event sponsored by Mayo Clinic.

Growing up, I was always overweight. During my teenage years, in particular, I struggled — losing and gaining weight over and over again. I tried different diets, pills and exercises while battling bullying, depression and societal standards that said I should try to fix my body.

As an adult, I made the decision to have a gastric lap band inserted to help control my weight, but it still didn’t change my mindset.

Obesity is not out of the ordinary in my family nor in my culture. Most of my family members have had challenges with obesity at one point in their lives. And, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 42.5 percent of Latinos are overweight or obese. [...]

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Tags: Cardiology, First Coast Heart Walk, Heart Disease, stroke

September 1st, 2016

Historic Flood No Match for Mayo Clinic Health System Staff’s Resolve to Serve Patients, Each Other

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Colleagues and other volunteers helped clear waterlogged furniture and other items from the home of Lynn Luloff.

“My husband and I would have totally crumbled if the support hadn’t been there,” says Lynn Luloff, chief financial officer of Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah, Iowa.

Luloff is one of many Mayo Clinic Health System staff who work at the Decorah medical center who saw their daily routines washed away the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 24, when 8 to 10 inches of rain led to major flooding in the area. Mayo Clinic Health System provides physician services and management services at Winneshiek Medical Center.

The crisis, according to leaders at the medical center, revealed an unwavering commitment by health system staff not only to serve patients, but also each other.  [...]

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Tags: David Rooney, Dr Andy Goodner, Flood, Lynn Luloff, Winneshiek Medical Center

August 31st, 2016

After Treatment for Pituitary Tumor, Pastry Chef is Ready for Sweet Smell of Ordinary Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Jessie Brenholt is back to baking after tumor treatment.

Jessie Brenholt is a certified pastry chef who would like to open a bakery one day. “If the ingredients were free, I’d give out cakes to everyone,” she says.

For a while, the 23-year-old's dream seemed to be in jeopardy. After months of being sick with weight loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and vision problems, Jessie found that the source of her symptoms was a tumor on her pituitary gland — a small gland located at the base of the brain that makes a variety of hormones.

A neurosurgeon near her hometown of Hill City, Minnesota, found that the walnut-sized tumor was wrapped around Jessie’s optic nerve and located close to a carotid artery. Treatment to get rid of it could affect Jessie’s sense of smell and vision. Due to the complexity of the situation, the surgeon referred Jessie to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus.

“A pastry chef needs to be able to smell and see,” says Jessie. “My doctors at Mayo Clinic understood my concerns and have been great about preserving my quality of life with surgery and proton beam therapy.”  [...]

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Tags: clinical trials, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Pituitary tumor, Proton Beam Therapy

August 30th, 2016

Pain Rehabilitation Puts Brent and Nancy Berry Back in the Saddle

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Brent and Nancy Berry benefit from pain rehabilitation. During the holidays last year, Nancy and Brent Berry of Danbury, Iowa, went on a train ride with their children and grandchildren, after a two-hour car ride to get there. They’ve been horseback riding with friends. They’re laughing, running errands together, and hosting their grandchildren for overnight stays.

Not long ago, they couldn't enjoy any of those activities. Pain affected every aspect of their lives.

Brent quit his job several years ago due to medical disability. He has several chronic medical conditions, including inflammatory arthritis and chronic fatigue. He took prescription opioid and benzodiazepine medications for pain and sleep problems. He slept a lot.

Then Nancy got sick from the West Nile virus, caused by a mosquito bite. Her muscles swelled, her joints felt hot, and she had severe fatigue and pain.

"I was unable to do my normal activities," she says "I was in a downward spiral into chronic pain, and everything that goes with it — anxiety and depression. I felt like I was losing my life." The Berry's turned to the Pain Rehabilitation Center at Mayo Clinic as what seemed like a last resort. Through the program, they found a new way to approach their conditions, along with renewed hope for the future.  [...]

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Tags: Chronic Fatigue, Dr Wesley Gilliam, Fibromyalgia, Inflammatory Arthritis, Pain Medicine, Pain Rehabilitation Center

August 17th, 2016

After Severe Rotator Cuff Injuries, Stuart Baker Found Relief at Mayo Clinic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

StuartBaker805For Stuart Baker, flying was life. After beginning his career as a flight attendant, Stuart eventually earned a pilot’s license and flew for a major airline. But by age 40, this native of Winchester, Virginia, had torn his right rotator cuff twice, grounding his ability to fly.

It took seven years, three surgeries and extensive rehabilitation for Stuart to recover use of his right arm. Then, he damaged his left rotator cuff. But this time, he found Mayo Clinic.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Cederic Ortiguera, Florida Campus, orthopedic surgery, Rotator Cuff

August 16th, 2016

Coordination and Teamwork Make Simultaneous Surgeries Seamless for Heart Transplant Recipients

By Hoyt Finnamore HoytFinnamore

WilliamandMichale805Michael Tyler and William Tiger didn’t know one another before the summer of 2016. But they now share a unique life event. Both 55-year-olds underwent heart transplant surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Arizona campus on the same day, at the same time. Completing the simultaneous procedures was a milestone for the Transplant Center team in Arizona, who had not previously been called on to perform more than one heart transplant at a time.

“It was truly remarkable how the team came together,” says transplant coordinator Allison Smith, who said the offers for both hearts came in on a Friday afternoon. Extensive coordination and precise timing were crucial to providing the best possible outcomes for the patients.

“When we all came in on Monday morning and knew the patients were doing well, it was like a euphoric high,” she says.  [...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Louis Lanza, Dr Octavio Pajaro, heart transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Michael Marranca, ventricular assist device

August 12th, 2016

Life Beyond A Heart Transplant is Vibrant and Full for Elmo Aquino

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

For years, Elmo Aquino dealt with persistent heart problems that eventually led to a heart transplant. Since then, he’s moved forward and has been thriving, both personally and professionally.

Fifteen years ago, Elmo Aquino, a resident of Orange Park, Florida, was an avid runner. He’d competed in Jacksonville's Gate River Run, an annual 15-kilometer running event, several times. But one morning in the summer of 2001, his active lifestyle came to an abrupt end when suddenly, while on a treadmill, he found he couldn’t run.

“I knew something was wrong, because I was used to running,” recalls Elmo, now age 43. He knew he needed medical treatment. “I could have gone to some of the other hospitals,” he says. “But with Mayo Clinic here in town, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Elmo was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy — a condition in which the chambers of the heart become enlarged — and he ended up in the intensive care unit. That’s where he first met Daniel Yip, M.D., medical director for the Heart Failure and Transplant Program at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.  [...]

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Tags: Dilated Cardiomyopathy, Dr Daniel Yip, Dr Jeffrey Hosenpud, Left Ventricular Assist Device, Mayo Clinic in Florida, transient ischemic attack

August 9th, 2016

Surgery to Get Rid of Seizures Gives Brad Lewis New Freedom

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After years of taking medication for persistent seizures, Brad Lewis had surgery at Mayo Clinic to eliminate them. Five years later, he remains seizure-free.
For 14 years, Brad Lewis never knew quite what to expect when he woke up in the morning. A rare genetic disorder, tuberous sclerosis, caused a variety of health problems. But the one that disrupted his life the most was epilepsy. At one point, Brad was having as many as 80 seizures a day.

“Seizures are so unpredictable. If Brad wasn’t having a seizure, he was worried about having a seizure,” says his mother, Bernadette Lewis. “It affected every minute of his life, whether he was at school, with friends or at home.”

Brad was also dealing with other complications from his medical condition. After trying many medications and going through multiple surgeries, Brad’s parents decided they needed another expert to weigh in on the situation. That brought the family to Nicholas Wetjen, M.D., a physician in the Department of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Nicholas Wetjen, Epilepsy, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Tuberous Sclerosis, seizures

August 5th, 2016

Double Lung Transplant Recipient Beats Cystic Fibrosis to Become A Running and Fitness Enthusiast

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

After fighting cystic fibrosis for more than a decade, Tammy Bolerjack received a life-saving double-lung transplant at Mayo Clinic. Taking full advantage of her renewed health, today she’s fit and running strong. When Tammy Bolerjack was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 18, she found herself frequently in and out of hospitals for treatments to help her breathe. Running 5K races and half-marathons certainly wasn’t something she envisioned in her future. Little did she know then that eventually a double lung transplant at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus would not only allow her to breath normally, but would motivate her to become a fitness enthusiast and a competitive runner.  [...]

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Tags: cystic fibrosis, Emergency medicine, Florida Campus, lung transplant, organ donation

August 4th, 2016

Mayo Clinic’s First Lung Transplant Recipient in Florida Makes Most of Every Moment for 15 Years and Counting

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Richard and Janice Oppelt with transplant surgeon Dr. Cesar Keller. When Richard Oppelt arrived at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus in early 2001, his lung capacity was minimal – only 21 percent of what it should have been.

A sandblaster for 24 years, Richard, from Melbourne, Florida, had developed silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust, which can damage the lining of the lung air sacs, and cause scarring and stiffening of the lung, making it difficult to breathe.

"When talking with someone, I would have to take a break to catch my breath," Richard says. "I was so short of breath sometimes that my wife had to finish my sentences. I also had a hard time making it up the stairs in my house without stopping several times."
[...]

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Tags: Dr Cesar Kellar, Florida Campus, lung transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Silicosis

August 3rd, 2016

Healing Baby Lucas’ Heart With His Own Cells

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

A Mayo Clinic research team led by Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., is using Lucas Gutman’s own stem cells to try and save him from needing a heart transplant later in life. Jennifer Gutman calls the day doctors diagnosed her youngest son, Lucas, with hypoplastic left heart syndrome the worst day of her life. The severe heart defect, sometimes referred to as HLHS, was uncovered during what Jennifer and her husband, Brian, thought would be a routine ultrasound.

The startling news brought immediate fears for Lucas’ future.

Determined to help Lucas, Jennifer’s sister-in-law, a physician, reached out to medical colleagues for advice. One of the phone calls she made led her to Timothy Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Connecting with Dr. Nelson and his team has made the long-term outlook for Lucas and his family considerably brighter.  [...]

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Tags: clinical trials, Dr Timothy Nelson, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, Karen Miller, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, regenerative medicine, research

August 2nd, 2016

Tree Farmer’s Passion for the Outdoors Thrives Thanks to Palliative Care Team

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Roger and Sally Conklin welcome visits from Charlene Anderson, a palliative care nurse practitioner. Roger Conklin has a passion for being outdoors. A tree farmer for more than 50 years, Roger looks forward to the changing seasons and experiencing the cycle of planting, growing and harvesting.

Over the last two decades, however, health concerns have made his outdoor activities more challenging. During that time, Roger has undergone hip and knee replacement, been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and faced additional health issues related to his heart and lungs.

Medical care from his team at Mayo Clinic Health System, along with support from a large circle of family and friends, have seen him through each of these obstacles. And in October 2014, a new feature was added to the mix when Mayo Clinic Health System Palliative and Supportive Care Service became part of Roger’s care team, too.  [...]

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Tags: hip replacement, knee replacement, Mayo Clinic Health System, Palliative care, Prostate Cancer

July 29th, 2016

Seamstress Moving and Sewing Again After Complex Spine Surgery for Scoliosis

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Years of progressing scoliosis left Kimberly Kimmons in severe pain and put her vocation as a seamstress at risk. But a series of surgeries at Mayo Clinic successfully treated her condition, allowing her to continue creating unique fashions.Growing up in Central Florida, Kimberly Kimmons was an active child. She loved swimming, biking and martial arts. But at age 12, Kim was diagnosed with scoliosis, a sideways curvature of the spine that most often occurs during a growth spurt before puberty. Unfortunately, Kim’s family didn’t have the resources to fully address her spinal issues, and the scoliosis continued to get worse.

Years later, when Kim and her husband, Kent, searched for specialists to help fix her back problems, they found neurosurgeons at Mayo Clinic’s campus in Jacksonville, Florida, who were confident they could help. But as they assessed her condition, Kim’s care plan became more complicated. In the end, she had three surgeries at Mayo Clinic to remedy back and neck issues. With time and recovery, Kim was able to reclaim her life.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Gordon Deen, Dr Mark Pichelmann, Mayo Clinic Florida, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Scoliosis, Spinal Fusion

July 27th, 2016

After Learning Flu-Like Symptoms Were Actually Thyroid Cancer, Mother Shares Advice to Help Save Others

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

BethSpreitzer805It was 2012, and Beth Spreitzer was busy with life. Mothering her fourth-grade daughter and taking care of a household left no time to get sick. However, after experiencing what she thought were too many common symptoms – fatigue, chills, fever – and not improving, Beth thought something else must be wrong.

"In the past, the most I'd ever have to fight off was a cold. I attributed my recent symptoms to being busy and getting older," Beth says.

During a routine visit, her gynecologist noticed her thyroid was inflamed and tender to the touch. This butterfly-shaped gland rests in the bottom of the neck, around the windpipe. It has two side lobes that you can't feel when the thyroid is its normal size. The gland secretes hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.

Her doctor asked if she'd been sick. Beth confirmed that yes, she suffered from a fever and chills a couple of weeks earlier and even had a cold sore, which for her was uncommon. But she admits she didn't think much about the conversation afterward.  [...]

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Tags: Dr John Casler, Dr Michael Meneffee, Dr Steven Buskirk, Dr Victor Bernet, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Thyroid cancer

July 23rd, 2016

'All We Want Is for Evie to Reach 100 Percent of Her Potential'

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Evie McLeish at Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Center. The night before 8-year-old Evie McLeish’s brain surgery, her Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon David Daniels, M.D., Ph.D., told her parents, "I don’t want you to think of this as the end. This is just the beginning of a marathon."

The procedure was the start of Evie’s long-term care plan for treatment of a brain tumor. Along with the brain surgery, that plan included chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Due to her age and the location of her tumor, though, her doctors recommended Evie receive proton beam therapy instead of conventional radiation therapy.

The timing was right. Mayo Clinic had just begun a new Proton Beam Therapy Program at its Rochester, Minnesota, campus. And not only was this unique treatment readily available to Evie, it was relatively close to her family’s home in Ankeny, Iowa, just a three-hour drive away.

"We were dealt a big blow with Evie’s tumor," says her mother, Ali McLeish. "But there have been silver linings in this whole thing, including that we could get proton beam therapy without having to travel across the country."  [...]

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Tags: brain tumor, Dr David Daniels, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Medullablastoma, Proton Beam Therapy

July 21st, 2016

Volleyball Player Realizes Her Dream With Help From Her Mayo Clinic Team

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Volleyball player Brooke Johnson was inspired by her care team after her hip surgery.As senior captain of her high school volleyball team, Brooke Johnson was determined to lead her squad to the state tournament. Never mind that the team hadn’t made it there before. Or that her small school had never sent any athletic team to a state tournament. Or that Brooke had health issues that made playing a challenge. Not even that she required extensive hip surgery four months before the season started. None of that mattered to Brooke.

“I was convinced we could do it,” she says. “That’s what I was working toward, and I refused to give up.”

The obstacles in her path were significant. Her team at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, worked with Brooke, though, to see her through to her goal. And in November 2015, her Heritage Christian Academy volleyball team made its first appearance in the Minnesota state high school tournament, earning third place overall.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Bruce Levy, Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, orthopedic surgery, rheumatoid arthritis, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

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