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Most Baltimoreans can recall the fury of Hurricane Irene in August of 2011, but Christopher Green has a memento from the storm others can’t claim: a toe growing out of his hand.
It all unfolded as the storm knocked out power to his home near Chestertown, and water started pouring in an atrium window. A fire truck carried him and his thumb—on ice—through flooded roads to Chester River Hospital Center, which tried to stabilize the injury, but they had no expertise in reconstruction of the digit.
Doctors surgically attached the patient’s hand to his upper thigh for three weeks to cover the wound with healthy tissue without detaching and reattaching blood vessels. In the future, Katz may perform an additional surgery to add movement to the tip of the new thumb, to help with a few tasks that are still a bit challenging.
Retired entrepreneur and Jiffy Lube founder Willis James Hindman, 78, always enjoyed raising thoroughbred race horses on his Westminster farm.
And when severe age-related macular degeneration (AMD) destroyed Hindman’s vision to the point where he couldn’t read or recognize faces of family and friends, let alone watch his horses, depression set in—not uncommon with AMD.
But Hindman is now a member of a very exclusive AMD club, since the surgical implantation at Johns Hopkins’s Wilmer Eye Institute of a tiny, new Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT) in his left eye. A surgical procedure uses the IMT to replace the eye’s natural lens—as with cataract surgery— implanting it behind the iris, the colored, muscular ring around the pupil.Hindman is one of three patients at Wilmer (the first two were in the trial) to benefit from the telescope, which costs about $15,000, not including the price of surgery and rehabilitation. After implantation last December, Hindman participated in a rehabilitation program at Wilmer’s Low Vision Rehabilitative Service that trains patients to effectively use the bionic eye, which takes six months to a year. Students and staff at Howard County’s Reservoir High School know Carole Ferrante as a phys-ed teacher and volleyball coach with boundless energy and an upbeat outlook.
Seeing her dire psychological state, her endocrinologist urged her to go the route of bariatric surgery, and recommended Dr.
Singh should know: He’s been performing bariatric surgery for 12 years and now does about 350 procedures a year. In addition to surgery in May 2012, Ferrante took advantage of the hospital’s bariatric support network, including a procedure to remove excess skin. Few mothers would ever imagine that their own blood could be toxic to their unborn babies, but it can happen—as it did to Stephanie Buckley, who is among the 6 percent of the population that has Rh-negative blood.



What might have been missed was a more severe case of so-called Rh allo-immunization that Sinai maternal-fetal physician Stephen Contag did indeed find—and dealt with in an interesting way. Contag’s approach, while relying on a Doppler monitor to check the baby’s blood flow every couple of weeks, was a series of fetal blood transfusions until the baby was old enough to be delivered. But the transfusions worked—another would come after birth, in addition to weeks of monitoring—and baby Payton Copek, now five months old, is doing just fine, thank you. Madisyn Betterson’s frightening illness first appeared in June, “right before school let out,” recalls her mother, Stephanie.
The normally bubbly, active fifth grader at Windsor Mills’s Dogwood Elementary School, who liked to dance, sing, and play with her Yorkie, Tyson, began vomiting, as if she had a stomach virus.
As her daughter’s condition worsened, Betterson rushed Madisyn—now talking repetitively and unable to stand or control bodily functions—to the ER at St. Grabbing an articulating aluminum ladder, the off-duty police officer and father of two braved the darkness to try to make a temporary fix.
Then, in February, surgeons removed the patient’s big left toe and moved it to where the thumb had been, a six- to eight-hour process that relied on the microsurgical skills of Katz and the chief of the Curtis National Hand Center, Dr. He wasn’t alone in his affliction: About two million Americans have various forms of macular degeneration, which affects the region of the retina responsible for central, detailed vision.
She dieted and followed a supervised exercise program to lose weight, but her thyroid disease made the task almost impossible.
And this time—and an entire wardrobe later—the fit, 157-pound Ferrante enjoyed a totally new experience. And in its most severe form, that incompatibility can cause the mother’s blood to attack the red blood cells in the fetus’s Rh-positive blood, making the baby dangerously anemic.
And though her Westminster obstetrician assured her everything with her pregnancy would be fine, Buckley wasn’t convinced.
But we’re good at preventing it in the first place.” Assuming, of course, that it’s detected early and prevented with drugs that suppress the mom’s immune response. Joseph Medical Center in the middle of the night, where the perplexed staff referred her to the University of Maryland Medical Center (which now owns St.


But he fell, and as he did so, his left thumb got caught in the ladder, ripping the digit from the bone and taking nerves and tendons with it.
At 307 pounds, she was tormented by nearly constant feelings of humiliation that were fueling depression and even suicidal thoughts.
In May 2012, after months of research and preparation, Ferrante went ahead with the surgery. Her mother rushed her to the ER at the first of several hospitals where she would eventually seek help. Spinal-tap results seemed to support his educated guess: It was a rare form of encephalitis (anti NMDA receptor encephalitis).
But the way the thumb had been torn, not cut, from the hand made things more difficult, and it came down to saving the patient or the digit.
Over the ensuing weeks, additional surgeries would improve the motion, dexterity, and appearance of the reconstructed toe-turned-thumb.
And after a couple hours of surgery, and six weeks of recuperation, Ferrante discovered a new world. They all worked a bit, but the final thing we tried was something akin to chemotherapy, administering a specific antibody for eight weeks that attacks white blood cells—and then we saw dramatic improvement.” It was at that point she could be moved to Mt.
I remember one day I wanted to drive my car under a truck.”It was a crowning moment of utter humiliation that led her to drastic measures.
As the days passed, however, the symptoms got more distressing: “She was barely able to talk or walk at this point, but she was sent home by one of the several hospitals on the second visit there with them thinking it was conversion disorder, a psychological illness,” recalls Betterson, who works in specialty pharmaceutical sales.



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