"I was living with a big open sore," he said. "It was terrible. I wouldn't wish this on anybody."
After struggling for years keeping the wound clean, Mr. Burrell agreed to have his right leg surgically removed in 2003 in hopes of preventing further infection. But the infection persisted and doctors gave him more dire news: his left leg also needed to be removed.
"They told me what I was up against and we did it," he said. "It's a difficult decision. There were no guarantees. But the fact is if you want to live you have to do this."
He never entertained the thought of giving up, he said.
"I'm a really determined guy. My approach to this was optimistic and I didn't give up," he said.
These days, Mr. Burrell maintains his positive attitude and is glad to be alive. He is still able to get around and drive, and is an advocate for the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Only 57 cases of translumbar amputations had been recorded in medical literature worldwide, although the researchers suspect more have occurred since the initial referencing in 1960. The authors added to their review nine UT Southwestern patients who had received the procedure as a result of terminal pelvic osteomyelitis, a type of bone infection.
About a third of the 66 patients survived at least nine years after having a hemicorporectomy. Of those who had the procedure for the bone infection, more than half survived at least nine years. Of the nine terminal pelvic osteomyelitis-driven patients treated at UT Southwestern, four remained alive after 25 years and the average survival was 11 years.
"Though it is impossible to know how the survival rate would compare had these patients not undergone the amputation, given the severe disease involved, it is reasonable to assume they survived longer than they would have without surgery. Most importantly, our survivors reported that they were satisfied with their decisio
|Contact: Russell Rian|
UT Southwestern Medical Center