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Kim's Story

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AVOIDING AMPUTATION

When Fate Is Not Final

If not for the medical expertise at the Temple Heart & Vascular Institute, Kim may have lost both of her lower legs to amputation.

The story begins about 10 years ago when Kim had an inferior vena cava (IVC) filter implanted in the large vein that returns blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. These filters are used to help prevent large blood clots from traveling to the heart and lungs.

Kim and her grandson

Over time, however, the IVC filter became clogged with clots itself. This led to poor blood flow in Kim’s legs and feet. Her health went downhill fast.

“One day my husband found me unconscious on the floor,” Kim said. “He dialed 911 and I was taken to my local hospital.” 

Faced with an Impossible Decision

At the hospital, doctors discovered Kim was in kidney failure due to the clogged IVC filter. She also developed severe gangrene — or dead tissue — in both of her feet and toes. To save her life, doctors said that both of her legs needed to be amputated below the kneecaps.

Fate intervened in the form of Kim’s teenage grandson, who is friends with the sons of Temple cardiologist Dr. Paul Forfia. The boys talked and Dr. Forfia was put in touch with Kim’s family.

“Dr. Forfia told my husband to put me in an ambulance and get me to Temple right away,” Kim said. “They had the doctors and expertise to help me."

A Life-Altering Procedure

At Temple, Kim saw Dr. Riyaz Bashir, Director of Vascular and Endovascular Medicine, who knew it was time for a more aggressive intervention.

Dr. Bashir took Kim to Temple’s catheterization lab where he advanced a catheter into both of her leg veins. Once there, he suctioned the clots out and delivered a small amount of a clot-dissolving medication. The next day, she returned to the catheterization lab to have any remaining clots removed. Dr. Bashir also implanted several stents in her legs to help keep her veins open.

The procedures worked and the blood flow in Kim’s legs quickly improved. The gangrene cleared up and her feet were near normal. She even walked unassisted into her follow-up appointment with Dr. Bashir, a far cry from how she arrived at Temple just weeks before.

Her long-term prognosis is excellent.

Doctors at the first hospital told my daughter I was going to die unless I had my legs amputated. Temple had the expertise to save them and to save me. I’m so thankful.

- Kim

“Doctors at the first hospital told my daughter I was going to die unless I had my legs amputated,” Kim said. “Temple had the expertise to save them and to save me. I’m so thankful.”

“Unfortunately, situations like the one faced by Kim are fairly common,” Dr. Bashir says. “Patients are told they can’t be helped, and they may end up with amputations. It’s important for patients to know that they have other options.”