A surgery performed for the first time here in Bermuda could allow a young man to breathe on his own for the first time since an accident paralyzed him several years ago, potentially allowing him to be cared for at home in the future, reported Bernews.com on Monday.
The patient, who was paralyzed from the neck down, has been relying on a ventilator because he does not have control over his breathing.
The surgery required a team of surgeons, with the supervising doctor saying, “The operation could not have been done better anywhere else in the world.”
According to the Bermuda Hospitals Board’s latest ‘Communiqué’ newsletter [PDF here], “The procedure involves diaphragmatic pacing, a technique that inserts a device attaching electrodes internally to the patient’s diaphragm.
“These electrodes are then brought out through the skin and attached to a pacemaker, which automatically does the work of contracting the diaphragm.”
“It is hoped the patient will be able to make do without his ventilator completely,” Dr. David Harries, Chief of Geriatrics explained. “The plan is for him to eventually be discharged and cared for at home.”
“It took a great deal of team work to arrange for the surgical procedure to be performed here in Bermuda. The expert in this technology, Professor of Surgery, Raymond Onders, is based in Cleveland, Ohio.
“He travels worldwide helping insert these devices and because it was more cost effective and easier for the patient for him to come here, the patient did not have to travel to Cleveland.
“The surgical team organized Dr. Onders’ travel to the island, made certain all was in order with immigration and arranged for the device to be cleared through customs.
Dr. Onders, who supervised local surgeons, Boris Vestwebber and Hermann Thouet, said, “The team at the hospital was tremendous. The operation could not have been done better anywhere else in the world.”
“Judy Richardson, Chief Nursing, Quality and Risk Officer said the young man’s family is extremely happy with the fact that this surgery could be performed here, in a familiar environment, and with staff they already trust.
“Congratulations to Loretta Santucci and the entire surgical team for a job well done and for providing the best quality care to our patient.”