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Suffering from cystic fibrosis and rejecting the transplanted lungs he had gotten just 2 years ago, Jon Sacker, 33, came to UPMC from his hometown in Moore, Oklahoma, as a last resort. But when his carbon dioxide levels spiked, making him too sick for another transplant, his family feared the worst.
“I thought I had brought my husband here to die,” said Mr. Sacker's wife, Sallie.
Instead, UPMC clinicians turned to a Pittsburgh-made device called the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System (RAS) that would filter out harmful carbon dioxide and provide healthy oxygen to his blood, giving Mr. Sacker a chance to gain enough strength to undergo a lifesaving transplant. He became the first person in the U.S. to be implanted with the Hemolung RAS; a month later, he underwent a double lung transplant and today is on the road to recovery.
Traumatic facial injuries — from motor vehicle accidents, gunshots, military combat, or other incidents — can cause debilitating effects, such as sunken, jagged facial features and increased scarring. While surgeons can often reconstruct the bones of the face, it's difficult to return the soft tissue back to its original form.
Fat grafting is a common procedure — plastic surgeons performed approximately 65,000 in 2011 — however, using it for facial reconstruction is a completely new, experimental use of this well-known treatment. It is believed this technique of fat grafting could be of significant benefit to patients with severe head and face injuries.
For Matthew Uram, a Pennsylvania state police officer, a stem cell spraying device was life-changing. The 44-year-old was one of the first U.S. patients to be treated by an experimental procedure after sustaining first- and second-degree burns to the right side of his face and body after someone poured gasoline onto a bonfire in July 2009 while Mr. Uram was standing nearby.
When he went for treatment at UPMC Mercy Hospital's burn center, doctors directed him to McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members Jörg Gerlach, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, and Alain Corcos, MD, FACS, Chief, Division of Multisystem Trauma, Department of Surgery, UPMC Mercy. Less than a week after the accident, Mr. Uram received this novel treatment.
“I had nothing to lose,” Mr. Uram, told The Star. “I was in so much pain.”