Hope, Healing and a New Life: Kevin’s Story
A challenging diagnosis and complicated treatment plan gave Kevin Grant a second chance, and he took it.
Diagnosed at another hospital with a severe infection in his left foot, the 58-year-old operator of a D.C.-area medical-licensed adult daycare business underwent a partial amputation of his foot. The hospital’s surgeons advised Mr. Grant that he’d likely lose his leg below the knee as well. Mr. Grant sought a second opinion from a MedStar hospital, only to come up with another conclusion: the limb could be saved.
“Losing part of my foot, I could understand,” Mr. Grant recalls. “But the fact that the hospital didn’t provide much information or offer another option made me very uncomfortable with that approach.”
The experience took a toll on Mr. Grant’s overall health. Already dealing with blood pressure and diabetes issues, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, the possible result of a staph infection from his many hospital visits.
While the recommendation for below-the-knee amputation was not out of the question, the other hospital’s recommendation seemed premature to him. But he faced an uphill battle. Along with the infection and diabetes, his congestive heart failure made him high risk for surgery.
Convinced there had to be another way, Mr. Grant sought out care from wound healing and limb salvage specialists at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, where he was evaluated by Podiatric Surgeons John Steinberg, DPM, and Tammer Elmarsafi, DPM.
Dr. Steinberg says, “When a patient with diabetes has a threatened limb, everything has to happen rapidly and simultaneously to maximize the chances for a good outcome. This is a big part of what we do daily, and our team is built to handle these complex patients.”
“No part of his admission was straightforward,” adds Dr. Elmarsafi. But Mr. Grant sensed that this approach to his foot would be different. “Because the Hospital Center saw amputation as a last resort, they brought in a whole team of people to look at all the issues,” he says. “They kept me involved and informed throughout the process.”
A vascular surgery consultation confirmed that Mr. Grant was strong enough to undergo surgery, so Caitlin Zarick, DPM, and Dr. Elmarsafi performed separate procedures for him.
“Mr. Grant had multiple surgeries to remove all infected and dead tissue,” says Dr. Zarick. “We had initially been concerned about continued bone infection, and I performed bone biopsies of multiple bones in his foot. The goal of the initial surgery was to remove bacteria, and to prepare his wound for possible closure, grafting, or possible amputation.”
The surgeries ultimately led to another partial amputation of his foot, called a Chopart amputation, leaving Mr. Grant with a shorter, yet still functional foot.
After a few bumps in his recovery, Mr. Grant was cleared to begin rehabilitation with MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, where he was fitted with a customized brace to maximize his walking ability. He was ready to resume his life, and didn’t waste any time. He began a supervised exercise and dietary regimen that brought his weight down to a healthier level and eliminated the need for diabetes medication.
Regaining strength in his left leg further reinforced his commitment to healthier living, to the point where he asked Dr. Elmarsafi about running a 5K race. “I had to talk Kevin out of that, as he remains at high risk of amputation,” Dr. Elmarsafi says. “He needed to focus on his current recovery process and avoid any possibility of reopening his wound.” Dr. Elmarsafi recommended swimming and using elliptical-focused training at the gym. Mr. Grant now swims several laps every other day and goes to the gym regularly.
Though he’s not abandoning his racing ambitions, Mr. Grant is content to take a more measured approach to his recovery. He says his only regret is not having sought help sooner from the Hospital Center.
“All the doctors were caring, ethical, and fully invested in supporting me and my family,” he says. “When you have an entire team looking at a challenge, you will likely have better outcomes.”
With his attitude, Dr. Elmarsafi says, anything is possible. “Kevin continues to amaze me,” he says. “I’m very proud of him. He is an inspiration to others by the lifestyle changes he has made.”