How Vascular Surgery Kept This Veteran on His Feet

George Young is a regular at ProMedica Wildwood Athletic Club. The 70-year old former member of the Marines and National Guard knows the importance of staying fit. But just a couple of years ago, his workout routine was threatened when he started having pain and numbness in his foot. Then, some of his toes turned black.

The symptoms were a result of acute limb ischemia — a lack of blood flow to a limb after a piece of plaque broke off in George’s artery.

“With an acute limb ischemia it happens all of a sudden,” explained David Paolini, MD, Jobst Vascular Institute. “You have an occlusion, that artery is down and you have no way to get blood around it except a few little twigs of arteries.”

This may result in a loss of motor function and maybe even limb loss.

Dr. Paolini knew George was at risk of losing his foot and even part of his lower leg if he didn’t act fast. He was able to use George’s own blood vessels to perform an arterial bypass. George’s toes had to be removed, but Dr. Paolini saved his foot and leg with the surgery.

“I had total confidence in the guy. He’s just a wonderful guy,” George said of Dr. Paolini. “With his skill and knowledge, I’ve got my leg. I’m missing some toes, big deal.”

Dr. Paolini said George set himself up for success by living a healthy lifestyle before he even knew he had vascular issues. Because of that, he healed remarkably and was motivated to get moving again.

“Every time he’d come in, he’d say, ‘Can I start to work out? Can I do karate? Can I start to ride my bike? Can I start running?'” remembered Dr. Paolini.

Now, George is “doing everything in his power to keep the bypass running by improving its flow,” said Dr. Paolini. And his attitude certainly plays a part.

“Life is 90% attitude. If you have a good attitude about everything you do, you’ll be alright,” said George.

Are you at risk for vascular disease? Consult our vascular risk checklist.