This is the first amputee who can feel cold, pressure and pain through a prosthetic arm – and move the artificial fingers using her brain.
Melissa Loomis, of Canton, Ohio, had her right arm amputated last fall after a seemingly innocuous raccoon bite developed into a life-threatening infection.
The devastating ordeal left the 43-year-old depressed and fearing for her life.
But she was given a lifeline: the orthopedic hand surgeon who treated her, Dr Ajay Seth, realized she would be the perfect candidate for a revolutionary new technique.
The novel surgery, never-before-performed in the US, allows redirection of nerves to move a prosthesis with the brain – so she can move it and feel her fingers.
Experts have hailed the operation as ‘revolutionary’, branding Melissa ‘the most advanced amputee in the world’.
Melissa will reveal full details of her ordeal and new prosthesis to Dr Travis Stork on Wednesday’s episode of The Doctors, the syndicated daytime talk show.
And she demonstrates moving the state-of-the-art arm.
First, in a clip shared exclusively with Daily Mail Online, you can see a glimpse of the devastating journey that brought her to this point.
‘It was like every other morning, my dogs wake me up to go outside,’ Melissa explains.
‘Then I heard this horrible screeching noise and there’s a raccoon on the fence.
‘I ran over there, shooing the raccoon, and my dog Vivi grabbed it by the tail. I went to grab the two dogs by their collars – I was trying to protect the raccoon.
‘The raccoon latched on to my arm. I knew he bit me. I could just feel electricity shooting down my arm.’
She went straight to the hospital. But they insisted it was just a scratch.
After a rabies shot, a tetanus shot, and a prescription of antibiotics, she was sent home.
Days later her shooting pains escalated and doctors found one of the worst infections they’d ever encountered.
‘By the time I saw Melissa, she had been on two or three rounds of different antibiotics and 24 hours of IV antibiotics,’ Dr Seth recalls.
‘When you looked at her arm it just looked like a regular small little bite.
‘When I made the first incision all this bacteria came pouring out.
‘This was absolutely the worst infection I have seen in my entire career.’
Melissa underwent more than eight surgeries with no progress.
At that point, she felt sure she was going to die.
And then, on the 11th day of treatment in the ICU, she developed sepsis. Her temperature was over 103, and her heart rate topped 140.
‘Dr Seth said, “this is it, I’m sorry, I could save your arm”,’ Melissa remembers.
‘I told him, “save my life”.’
With amputation a certainty, Dr Seth decided to propose a new procedure to Melissa.
He had heard about it at a conference in Canada months before.
But this was the first surgery in the U.S. that allowed an amputee to move a prosthetic arm with thoughts alone.
Beyond that, Melissa is also the first American amputee who can actually feel the sense of touch that was restored in all five fingers via the prosthetic hand.
The state of the art prosthetic being used is still a prototype, is initially being developed for use by the military, and is the only one of its kind.
It is designed for a 200 lb male soldier.
Melissa’s successful test is proof that women, military women and civilians alike, will benefit greatly from this developing technology.
During the TSR/TMR (Targeted Muscle Reinnervation and Targeted Sensory Reinnervation) surgery, Dr. Seth utilized AxoGen’s AxoGuard Nerve Protector to help protect the transferred nerves.
It is the only nerve wrap available made from natural tissue rather than collagen.
With this medical miracle, she can also sense pressure and temperature.
‘She’s so advanced, she’s way too advanced for us,’ Dr Seth tells The Doctors in tomorrow’s episode.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/