Monday, December 9, 2013

Loyola patient's arm reattachment story now on video

MAYWOOD, Ill. –  Strangers often stop to ask Bob Seeman why he wears a padded glove on his left hand.

Rather than launching into a long explanation, Seeman hands the questioner a card with a link to a video  he recently posted on YouTube.

The 10-minute video tells the extraordinary story of how Seeman’s left arm was reattached at Loyola University Medical Center after it was nearly completely severed in a tow truck accident.

The padded glove protects the palm of his hand, which is a bit sensitive to pain. And because of poor circulation, Seeman needs to wear a sleeve in the winter to keep his arm warm. But otherwise, his arm has retained about 98 percent of its normal function.

“If I wasn’t wearing a glove, no one would ever guess that my arm had been reattached,” said Seeman, who lives in Mokena, Ill. “It’s such a miraculous story, I want to tell people about it. It’s difficult to tell the whole story verbally, and I usually leave something out. So my wife, Carol, and I made this video."

Seeman is approaching the 30th anniversary of the accident, which occurred April 30, 1984. At the time, he was working in the family tow truck business when he was called to the scene of an overturned semitrailer. His arm got caught in a mechanism that winds and unwinds the tow truck cable. Nearly severed, his arm was left hanging by the skin.

In a marathon surgery, orthopaedic surgeon Michael Pinzur, MD, plastic surgeon Juan Angelats, MD, and vascular surgeon William Baker, MD, worked together to reattach Seeman’s arm.

They sewed nerves, blood vessels, muscles and tendons together and used plates and screws to reconnect his broken humerus (upper arm bone). They took bone grafts from his hips and skin grafts from his leg, and used a vein from his leg to replace a damaged artery in his arm.

Many limb reattachments ultimately fail. The limb can die due to poor circulation, retain little or no movement or become so painful due to nerve damage that it must be amputated.

But Seeman experienced none of those problems. After several follow-up surgeries and a year of occupational therapy, he recovered nearly full use of his arm.

“Sometimes in life we don’t appreciate something until we lose it, and then it’s too late,” he says in the video. “It seems that hundreds of times over the years I’d be playing with my children, picking them up high in the air with two good arms, and it hits me like a lightning bolt how fortunate and thankful I am for a second chance.”

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.