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Michelle Duskey – Blood Clot Procedure Patient Story

Blood clots had blocked the flow to Michelle Duskey’s leg and toes, but treatment at Methodist Mansfield got her back on her feet

Clot-busters – EKOS® technology destroys harmful blood clots, saves lives

undefinedMichelle Duskey was in a building across the street from ground zero when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. That morning became a guessing game: Which direction should I go? With roads and subways closed, how do I get out of the city? How do I get in touch with my family?

Despite the many questions, she remained focused, moving from one moment to the next with a determination to survive.

It is that same determination that has helped her through a more recent challenge that started on Mother’s Day 2012.

“My leg suddenly went numb from the knee down,” Duskey says, describing what happened that day. “It was like when your leg falls asleep, and you try to walk on it and it’s painful.”

The pain worsened throughout the day, and by that night, Duskey was in the emergency department at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center.

Looking back, she says, “I feel like if I’d gone somewhere else, I might not have had a chance at all.”

Staying the course

undefinedSonograms revealed multiple blood clots in Duskey’s legs and near her lungs. The clots had blocked blood flow to her legs, causing muscle tissue to die, and there was a chance she might lose her foot or even her life.

Vascular surgeon Joseph Caruso, MD, independently practicing physician on the medical staff at Methodist Mansfield, was in charge of Duskey’s care. In a minimally invasive procedure, he directed a specialized EKOS® catheter directly to the blood clots to mechanically break them apart.

The next day, the clots were gone, but they had left behind a lot of damage: Muscle tissue in her toes and skin tissue on top of her foot had died.

While Dr. Caruso had to amputate Duskey’s toes, over the next few weeks, he fought to save her foot, performing multiple wound healing procedures, including stem cell transplants and skin grafting.

“It was a continual assessment of what was going on with the foot,” Dr. Caruso says, and in the end, he succeeded. “She’s had everything done to save a limb that you can possibly do to a person, and it kind of demonstrates what we’re capable of at Methodist Mansfield. She has a functional foot right now with a wound that’s healed.”

Still determined

undefinedNow that physical therapy is well under way and she’s rebuilding her leg strength, Duskey has already set her sights on getting back to her hobby of running.

“Dr. Caruso saved my foot when a lot of people said that wouldn’t work,” she says. “I’ve run tons of 5Ks, and my goal is to run one again.”

“She’s going to do it,” her husband, Michael, says. “I know what kind of a stubborn woman she is. I accept it like the sun coming up tomorrow. It’s going to happen.”

From the winter 2012 edition of Shine magazine.