Sharing Mayo Clinic

Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

June 28th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

After a Long, Long Wait, a Transplant, Gratitude and Goodbyes

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Randy Marlow with two of his transplant nurses. When Randy Marlow checked into Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys Campus, he knew his hospital stay would be lengthy. He just wasn’t expecting it to last one year, seven months and 21 days.

As someone who needed dual heart and liver transplants, Randy knew the probability of two suitable donor organs becoming available at the same time was small. Moreover, his rare blood type, coupled with a buildup of antibodies from multiple blood transfusions related to prior heart surgeries, meant he would be incompatible with all but 10 to 20 percent of organ donors, according to his physicians.

So Randy, an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed snowmobiling back home in the Colorado Rockies, riding his ATV, and camping, shifted his perspective from action to endurance.

Patience became the operative word. "You have to take it day by day and wait for that right day, for the miracle," Randy says.  [...]

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Tags: heart transplant, liver transplant, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center

June 26th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Former Soldier, Stroke Survivor Tells of Life Punctuated by Commas

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Former senior airman, R. Brady Johnson, survived a cerebral hemorrhage and stroke.When stroke survivor R. Brady Johnson first visited Mayo Clinic nearly nine years ago, his doctors didn't quite know what to make of him. Not only was his stroke, at age 31, unusual, but his post-stroke physicality surprised the team of neurologists he'd come to see.

It had been just over a year since Brady, who lives in Belvedere, Illinois, had a major stroke during a surgery to mitigate a cerebral hemorrhage. The stroke cost him the sensation in his right side, the ability to speak, to run, and a litany of other abilities. Yet, in the time between the stroke and visiting Mayo, the former senior airman for the U.S. Air Force and marathon runner had managed to coax his body to do things that his rehabilitation team initially said would be impossible.

[...]

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Tags: Cerebral Hemorrhage, Neurology & Neurosurgery, neurosurgery, stroke

June 25th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

‘How’d We Get So Lucky?’ — Proton Beam Therapy Available at the Right Time for Jackson

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Proton beam therapy was available at the right time for Jackson Fisher. Jackson Fisher went to lacrosse practice after school and was exhausted afterward. He'd had worsening headaches, double vision, nausea and weight loss over the previous two weeks. So the next day, his parents took him to the emergency room. There, the doctor ordered a CT scan, which showed a large mass in his brain.

Jackson was immediately take by helicopter from Des Moines, Iowa, where his family lives, to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The next day he had surgery to relieve pressure in his brain and biopsy the tumor.

“We told his neurosurgeon, Dr. Daniels [David Daniels, M.D., Ph.D.], and oncologist, Dr. Rao [Amulya Nageswara Rao, M.B.B.S.], ‘Whatever you need to do, do it,’” say Jackson’s parents, Michelle and Patrick Fisher. “It’s Mayo Clinic — we brought him to the experts to help him. We said, 'He’s your child now.' And we handed Jackson over to them.”  [...]

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Tags: Dr. Amulya Nageswara Rao, Dr David Daniels, Dr Nadia Laack, Nancy Heinzelman, Proton Beam Therapy, Randy McKeeman

June 18th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Family Tradition Inspires New Chimes for Plummer Building Carillon  

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Carillonneur Jeff Daehn and Dr. David Daugherty with the carillon recording. When David R. Daugherty, M.D., was growing up in Rochester, he walked to Central Junior High School with his father, Guy Daugherty, M.D., a Mayo Clinic cardiologist.

"Since our school was on dad’s way to the clinic, he made a tradition of walking with each of us kids when we reached junior high age," says Dr. Daugherty, when went on to join Mayo Clinic himself, as a psychiatrist. "We checked our progress by the bells in the Plummer Building. Hearing the chimes helped us get to school on time."

That youthful memory led to an idea: Could the carillon have a set of chimes that are unique to Mayo Clinic?  [...]

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Tags: Carillon, Dr David Daugherty, Heritage Days, Jeff Daehn, Mayo Clinic history, Rochester Campus

June 17th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Difficult Diagnosis Interrupts Residency, Gives Young Doctor a New View of Patient Care

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Natalie Ertz-Archambault, M.D. plans to apply for fellowships in hematology and medical oncology after uncovering the cause of her illness.Successfully finishing a medical residency is a significant milestone in any physician's career. But when Natalie Ertz-Archambault, M.D., graduated in June 2016 from the Internal Medicine Residency at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, the achievement felt particularly sweet.

"It was an incredible success for me, since I actually started my residency in 2012, completed four months, and then became too ill to work," she says. "At that time, I wasn't sure if I'd ever reach graduation."

[...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Fadi Shamoun, Dr Leslie Thomas, Dr Natalie Ertz-Archambault, Dr Richard Fowl, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Internal Medicine Residency

June 15th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Treatment to Slow a Quick Heartbeat Returns Jim Davis to His Fast-Paced Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Jim Davis is back to an active life after cardiac ablation.For 10 years, Jim Davis had a rapid heartbeat. He was otherwise healthy, though, so Jim wasn't particularly worried about it. He blamed the quick heart rate on his morning coffee.

In time, however, the condition began to affect his daily life. Medication didn't seem to help. When Jim sought care at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, his doctor discovered an underlying heart disorder that had gone undiagnosed.

Doctors were able to address his heart problems with a procedure called cardiac catheter ablation.

Today Jim's heart is still in rhythm. The rest of his life picked up the beat. [...]

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Tags: cardiac catheter ablation, Dr. Fred Kusumoto, Florida Campus, Heart Arrhythmia, rapid heartbeat, tachycardia

June 9th, 2016 · 1 Comment

An Answer for Luis – Surgeons Remove Polyp-Riddled Colon, Restore Function and Hope

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Luis Coriano meets with his medical team. Deciding to undergo a surgery to remove your colon is not a decision to be taken lightly, but it was one that Luis Coriano faced earlier this year. And he and his family wanted to make sure they made the right call.

Luis is affected by a rare genetic disorder called familial adenomatous polyposis that causes thousands of polyps to grow in the colon and ultimately leads to cancer. He knew that a prophylactic surgery to remove the diseased organ was the only way to prevent cancer from ravaging his body.

As daunting as the surgery was, however, more worrisome to Luis, was what came after the surgery. Namely, living with a stoma and an ostomy bag.  [...]

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Tags: colorectal surgery, Dr Eric Dozois, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, Colon Cancer

June 4th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Moving Beyond a Painful Decade – New Technology Offers Respite From Debilitating Leg Pain

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Gary Sorcic found relief for extreme leg pain.In the fall of 2014, Gary Sorcic was desperate. Severe, unrelenting pain in his legs had tormented him for 10 years. He was ready to take extreme measures.

"I told my doctor that if he had to cut my spinal cord and put me in a wheelchair to get rid of the pain, that's what I would do," Gary says.

Fortunately, that was not necessary. Instead, Gary found and enrolled in a clinical research trial at Mayo Clinic studying the effectiveness of a new technology to relieve nerve pain such as his. It made a tremendous difference. "I never imagined my legs feeling this good again," he says. "The study was a godsend for me." [...]

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Tags: chronic pain, clinical trial, Dr Charles Loprinzi, nerve pain, Pain Rehabilitation, Scrambler Therapy

May 31st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Mayo Physician Is One of the First Proton Beam Patients in Arizona

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dr. Leslie Milde was one of the first proton beam therapy patients in Arizona. People often don't hear the phrase, "You are the most important person in my life today," especially from those other than family. However, Leslie Milde, M.D., has heard it often — from her patients. She is well aware of the significance of her role in the operating room, and the apprehension felt by patients about to undergo surgery.

Now the tables are turned, and as one of the first five patients undergoing proton beam therapy at the newly opened Mayo Clinic Building in Phoenix, Dr. Milde, former chair of Mayo's Department of Anesthesiology in Arizona, is relying on key people in her own life — the team of specialists treating her spinal meningioma, a condition where tumors arise from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. [...]

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Tags: Arizona campus, Dr Leslie Milde, Dr Naresh Patel, Dr Sujay Vora, Proton Beam Therapy, Spinal Meningioma, oncology, radiation therapy

May 29th, 2016 · 1 Comment

Limb Lengthening and Regeneration Clinic Offers Hope for Amarachi

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Amarachi talks about her experience with Blount's disease. Just six months ago, every step for Amarachi Austin-Okoh was filled with pain. The 11-year-old from Nigeria had enough trouble walking. Things like running, playing tag or playing basketball seemed like a dream. But now they're things she can look forward to, thanks to a life-changing trip to Mayo Clinic.

Amarachi has a condition called Blount's disease. Her mother, Modesther Austin-Okoh, says the family discovered the condition with Amarachi was just two years old.

Todd Milbrandt, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Children's Center, describes Blount's disease as "a failure of the growth plate to grow on the inside of the knee, specifically, the top part of the tibia." In Amarachi's case, her disease progressed to the point where she had severely bowed legs.

"We wish we could have seen her walk and be like other children," her mother says. "We were always crying for her."  [...]

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Tags: Blount's Disease, Dr S Andrew Sems, Dr Todd Milbrandt, Limb Lengthening, Mayo Clinic Children's Center, Orthopedic Surgery

May 23rd, 2016 · 1 Comment

Celebrating 40 Twice as Nice After Recovery From Surprising Stroke

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Sherry Pinkstaff, Ph.D., enjoys time with family after a stroke.It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and despite having house guests, Sherry Pinkstaff, Ph.D., awoke at 6 a.m., just as she did every day, and began planning her morning run.

Sherry, then 39, ran daily. Exercise was important to her. After all, she’d made it her career. She was a professor of physical therapy at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and a research collaborator at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. She spends her days teaching students and patients about the power of exercise and its impact on cardiovascular health.

Climbing out of bed on this morning, though, she recalls feeling “off.” Although she initially shrugged off that feeling, she would quickly realize this was the first of several signs something more serious was in play.  [...]

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Tags: Cardiovascular Diseases, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Dr Benjamin Brown, Florida Campus, Patent Foramen Ovale, Sherry Pinkstaff, stroke

May 21st, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Discerning Physician Turns to Mayo Clinic for Cancer Care

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Dr. James Biles turned to Mayo Clinic after his cancer diagnosis.  Jim Biles, M.D., understands cancer treatment. A urologist who specializes in cancer surgery, he has spent his career focused on helping people receive the cancer care they need. So at age 72, when Dr. Biles received his own diagnosis of an aggressive type of cancer, he knew how critical it would be to get treatment from someone with experience and expertise.

"When I found out I had a bone tumor, I started hunting around to see who could do the surgery. It turned out that there are very few people in the world I would trust with it," he says. "Not many do it, and even fewer have the experience that Dr. Sim does. He is the kingpin."

Dr. Sim is Franklin Sim, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minnesota, campus. After a consultation with Dr. Sim, Jim decided to go through with a complex surgery at Mayo to treat his cancer.

"Being a doctor, I was pretty picky about all the details being well managed," he says. "It was exceptional. I really couldn't have had a better experience."  [...]

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Tags: Cancer, Chondrosarcoma, Dr David Lewallen, Dr Franklin Sim, Dr Peter Rose, Hemipelvectomy, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

May 19th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Teacher Smelling the Roses Again Thanks to Minimally Invasive Heart Procedures

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

LucyLorden805For years, Lucy Lorden suffered from an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. But one April morning in 2014, the Ormond Beach, Florida, elementary school teacher was barely able to walk from the parking lot to her classroom.

Thinking she had pneumonia, Lucy, then 56, went to see her primary care doctor. “The doctor told me to go to the emergency room right away,” she recalls. “My heart was beating at 192 beats per minute.”

At the local hospital, doctors diagnosed Lucy with atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the upper heart chambers, the atria, beat irregularly.

Lucy visited a local cardiologist, who prescribed several medications to regulate her rapid heartbeat and her thyroid levels. He advised follow-up every three months and once she turned 60, blood thinners to prevent a stroke. Unfortunately, just a few months shy of her 57th birthday, she would need more than simple follow-up. [...]

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Tags: Ablation, atrial fibrillation, Atrial Flutter, Florida Campus, irregular heartbeat, stroke

May 16th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Florida Chef Finds Expertise to Manage Rare Disease, Get His Life Back

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Chef Stefan is back on his feet with help from Mayo Clinic.When 67-year-old Stefan Gyorkos of St. Augustine, Florida, noticed swelling in his feet several years ago, he didn't think much of it. After all, as chef at a local golf and country club, he is on his feet for hours at a time.

That seemingly innocent ailment, however, would eventually lead to a series of tests and ultimately a diagnosis of a rare disease known as amyloidosis for which he required a bone marrow transplant at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus.

Amyloidosis occurs when a substance called amyloid builds up in the organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that is usually produced in the bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ in the body. Severe amyloidosis can lead to life-threatening organ failure. While there's no cure for the disease, the symptoms often can be managed, reducing the production of amyloid protein.  [...]

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Tags: Amyloidosis, bone marrow transplant, Dr Sikander Ailawadhi, Florida Campus

May 13th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Memories of Marlow Cowan

By Lee Aase LeeAase

Marlow and Fran Cowan play the piano at Mayo Clinic. Marlow Cowan, whose playful piano duet in our Mayo Clinic atrium with his wife, Frances, became a YouTube sensation and led to national and international TV appearances, has passed away at age 97.

I got the news early yesterday in an email from the Cowans’ daughter, DeDe Shour:
One of the last questions a week ago my Dad asked me was, "Do you think there will be a piano in heaven I can play?" (Of course our Dad could never pass up a piano without playing it). I told him I was certain there was something similar to a piano but much more glorious and that I was sure he would be joining with the angels playing it for the Lord.

So if you happen to hear some rag-time music floating through the air, smile....cause it's just our dad playing the piano as he brings joy to those who have gone before him.
Mr. Cowan certainly brought joy to millions while he was here. So with DeDe’s permission, I want to share some memories of Marlow and also let you remember (or see for the first time) for yourself.  [...]

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Tags: Frances Cowan, Marlow Cowan, Good Morning, piano

May 10th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Love and Determination Help Brennan Get Back on His Feet in Time to Walk Down the Aisle

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

BrennanFarley805Before October 2015, Brennan Farley had never broken a bone in his body. That changed dramatically when a horrific vehicle accident landed the 30-year-old farm worker in Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, for two months.

Due to Brennan's extensive injuries, doctors were concerned he might not be able to walk again. But with the help of a supportive care team and the love and encouragement of his fiancée, Kayla, Brennan progressed enough in his recovery to go home in December 2015. And to walk down the aisle at the end of his wedding ceremony a month later, with a little help and with his new bride by his side.

"The people at Saint Marys really cared about me," Brennan says. "They want their work to be great, and it shows. It really shows." And he would certainly need their best efforts.  [...]

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Tags: Critical Care, Emergency Department, General Surgery, Rehabilitation, trauma

May 9th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Simulation and Reality Meet to Find Ideal Surgical Approach for Florida Patient

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

Chad Thompson and Dr. John Casler discuss the results of recent surgery.

For six months, Chad Thompson slept sitting up to ease debilitating headaches caused by a tumor growing on a nerve in his head. Now, after a successful surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus in March, the 40-year-old Jacksonville resident is having conversations with friends and co-workers that he never expected.

“People keep asking, ‘When are you going to have that surgery,’” says Chad, a married father of three children and an executive at an aerospace company. “They’re shocked when I say, ‘I already had it,’ and I’m not sure they believe me.”

The reason for this response is that he has no visible scars from the operation, which his surgeon, John Casler, M.D., performed with help from the Anatomage “virtual dissection” machine in the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Simulation Center.  [...]

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Tags: Dr John Casler, Otorhinolaryngoloyg, Schwannoma, Simulation Center, anatomage, Chad Thompson, Florida, MayoClinicFL

April 22nd, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Following Her Father's Last Words, Vivian Finds New Life Because of Mayo Clinic

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

VivianTsai805Vivian Tsai remembers the last words her father said to her: "See a doctor." He recognized her symptoms.

For years, puzzling symptoms and a troubling medical condition had stalked their family. Growing up in Taiwan, Vivian was athletic and seemed to be healthy. However, she began to lose strength in her early 30s and went to the doctor with her father, Paul. Vivian was told she had a heart condition. "But no one really explained the problem to me," she says.

At first, Vivian was able to dismiss the symptoms. She even competed in a triathlon at age 40. But as she watched another member of her family struggle with symptoms she recognized in herself, her own condition became harder to ignore.

Over time, Vivian's symptoms had taken hold of her life, affecting her daily activities. She was not able to talk for more than 30 seconds without losing breath. While eating dinner, Vivian would often have to lie down for half an hour before returning to her meal because she would become so tired and lightheaded. Vivian's fear of having arrhythmia attacks also hindered her social life.

"I was afraid to go out on my own even to take a simple walk in the park," she says. "I didn't dare do that by myself."  [...]

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Tags: Apical Myectomy, Development, Heart Disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, International Medicine

April 13th, 2016 · 1 Comment

New Surgery for Scoliosis Keeps Teen Agile and Active

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

CamdenChristopher350

Camden Christopherson (second from left) with Stephen Cassivi, M.D., A. Noelle Larson, M.D., and Teresa Christopherson.

Camden Christopherson is an athlete: volleyball, basketball, softball, cross-country. She does them all. So when doctors told her, at age 13, that she had to wear a brace for 22 hours a day to combat scoliosis, and surgery to fuse her spine was likely in her future, Camden was devastated.

These treatments could help correct the severe spinal curve that had developed quickly during a growth spurt, her doctors said. But Camden didn't want to give up her flexibility and freedom of movement. And her mother, Teresa Christopherson, wasn't ready to accept that a brace and fusion surgery were her daughter's only choices.

"I wanted a second opinion," Teresa says. "I wasn't going to go forward based on one recommendation, so we went to Mayo."

At Mayo Clinic's campus in Rochester, Minnesota, mother and daughter met A. Noelle Larson, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, who discussed another possibility with them: anterior vertebral body tethering, or VBT, a new surgery for scoliosis that doesn't involve fusing vertebrae together. It was just the answer they needed.  [...]

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Tags: Dr. Noelle Larson, Dr Stephen Cassivi, Dr Todd Milbrandt, Orthopedic Surgery, Scoliosis

April 10th, 2016 · Leave a Comment

Heart Transplant Opens Door to Leading a Full Life

By SharingMayoClinic SharingMayoClinic

TaraBrigham2-805For 33-year-old Tara Brigham of Jacksonville, Florida, living with a heart condition since birth wasn't something that was going to get in the way of living an active normal life. In fact, she says the heart transplant she received six years ago as a result of her condition has made her life even more fulfilling.

A Minnesota native, Tara was diagnosed with enlargement of the heart during a routine checkup when she was 1 year old. While she had not had any symptoms of a heart problem since birth, the enlargement was significant enough that her physician at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus suggested that a biopsy of her heart should be done right away. She was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. The thickened heart muscle can make it harder for the heart to pump blood throughout the body to vital organs.

Tara's heart was monitored closely by her doctors at Mayo Clinic and later a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy specialist at the University of Minnesota. Since Tara was an active, healthy child otherwise, and what was known about her condition in children was limited, she was not put on medication, but doctors advised that she avoid strenuous activities.  [...]

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Tags: Dr Daniel Yip, Florida Campus, heart transplant, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, ventricular assist device

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