1. #1
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    DaSharkie's Avatar
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    Default And they expected this Marine to just live with paralysis?

    Read this in the Nashua (NH) Telegraph:

    http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/apps/...WS01/205020376

    His own road back to health


    Published: Wednesday, May. 2, 2007

    ENLARGE PHOTO

    Courtesy photo
    Thomas Simard and his parents, George and Doris, on the night he was deployed to Iraq.

    When doctors gave Thomas Simard a diagnosis he couldn’t accept, the injured Litchfield Marine got on his computer and took his healing into his own hands. Simard went online and found one of the few doctors in the county able to perform the tricky nerve-transplant surgery he needed to someday walk again.

    Six months ago, a roadside bomb exploded while Simard and his fellow troops were riding a Humvee back to their Marine base in Fallujah, Iraq, severely wounding the 22-year-old sergeant.

    Shrapnel from the 122 mm mortar shot into his right thigh, severing his sciatic nerve and leaving him unable to move his foot or calf.

    When Simard returned home to Litchfield after several painful surgeries, Boston-area neurosurgeons gave the Marine grim news.

    “They told me that I’d never walk again on my own, and that I would pretty much stay the way I was,” said Simard, a Campbell High School graduate. ENLARGE PHOTO

    Courtesy photo
    Litchfield Marine Thomas Simard was severely wounded in Iraq. After being told he’d never be able to walk on his own, the 22-year-old sergeant took his treatment into his own hands, finally finding a surgeon in Baltimore who could perform the complicated nerve-transplant surgery he needed on his leg.


    So while most men his age downloaded music or updated their fantasy football team, an undeterred Simard surfed the Internet in his Mike Lane home looking for a surgeon who’d fix his leg well enough so he could someday run, play soccer and snowboard again.

    Simard’s online search led him to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and Dr. Allen Belzberg – one of only a handful of surgeons in the country who can transplant nerves from a healthy body part to an injured one.

    On April 10, Belzberg performed a six-hour surgery on Simard, taking healthy nerves from his left leg and both arms and using them to repair the severed sciatic nerve in Simard’s right leg.

    Simard admitted he was “definitely nervous” on the eve of the operation, which was paid for by the military.

    His mother, Doris, said her son was worried the surgery and arduous recovery would be for naught.

    “He said to me, ‘I hope it’s worth it, because the rehabilitation is going to be hard,’ ” Doris Simard recalled. “But I said to him, ‘If you don’t do it, you’ll never know.’ ”

    Belzberg, who has been performing nerve-transplant operations for about 10 years, said the surgery went well, but that Simard’s road to recovery will be long and hard. ENLARGE PHOTO

    Courtesy photo
    Litchfield Marine Thomas Simard passes out American flags to students at St. Anthony’s Grammar School in Manchester who sent him letters while he was serving overseas in Iraq.


    Belzberg said the sciatic nerve won’t completely regenerate for another eight months, and that Simard will be in rehabilitation for about two years.

    “He’ll never fully recover,” said Belzberg, adding he’s optimistic Simard will eventually gain 80 percent of his normal function. “I’m confidently hoping he can eventually get to the point where he can run again.”

    Belzberg said without the regained feeling in his leg, Simard could have continuously injured himself and developed infections without ever knowing it, a condition that often leads to amputation.

    Belzberg, who performs about 75 nerve-transplant surgeries a year, said he has “definitely seen an upswing” of military men and women with nerve damage suffered from shrapnel or bullet wounds while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Simard is now recovering at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he will likely be rehabilitating for the next year. He said he was looking forward to seeing his family, who flew down to visit him last week.

    He said he was also looking forward to seeing his “second family”: his fellow Marines from the Second Air Battalion, Bravo Company, who recently returned home from Iraq.

    “They saved his life,” Doris Simard said of the Marines, who six months ago in Fallujah grabbed her injured son, wrapped a tourniquet around his leg and rushed him to medical attention. “They are truly one big family.”
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  2. #2
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    Simard admitted he was “definitely nervous” on the eve of the operation, which was paid for by the military.
    Ya! No doubt - but thats great that the Marines are paying the bill. Far too often when a soldier "outsources" medical treatment the armed forces and the government say "Too Bad. Nice that you found someone to help, but dont ask us to pay."

    I think its great he found a healer, and he is getting the proper support. I wish such things for all injured soldiers, sailors and airmen - thats how it SHOULD work.
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    Good for him. I've met very few veterans who have anything good to say about the health care they've received.
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    There's some people you shouldn't tell "It caint be done" or"We won't do it because it wasn't invented here...".
    They'll find a way around the axeholia that some people put in their way just because they can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    Good for him. I've met very few veterans who have anything good to say about the health care they've received.
    I see guys at Bethesda all the time, none of them have had a bad thing to say about there treatment up to that point. Once released they have troubles with the VA, but the injured guys get First Rate medical attention at the begining stages at least.
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    That story hit so close to home. My nephew was hit with an RPG last week in Iraq. They had to amputate his right arm at the elbow remove some large and small intestines, amputate the right toes, and he has 3rd degree burns to both legs from the waist down. They are not sure if his right leg will survive, kinda day by day. Dennis I may see you at Bethesda, I'm leaving for there Sunday morning to be with my Nephew. I'll be there thru Tues.
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    Hank, I hope all goes well with your nephew. Best wishes to him on a speedy (and as best as it can be) recovery.

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