- News Releases
People often don't hear the phrase, "You are the most important person in my life today," especially from those other than family. However, Leslie Milde, M.D., has heard it often — from her patients. She is well aware of the significance of her role in the operating room, and the apprehension felt by patients about to undergo surgery. Now the tables are turned, and as one of the first five patients undergoing proton beam therapy at the newly opened Mayo Clinic Building in Phoenix, Dr. Milde, former chair of Mayo's Department of Anesthesiology in Arizona, is relying on key people in her own life — the team of specialists treating her spinal meningioma, a condition where tumors arise from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
Just six months ago, every step for Amarachi Austin-Okoh was filled with pain. The 11-year-old from Nigeria had enough trouble walking. Things like running, playing tag or playing basketball seemed like a dream. But now they're things she can look forward to, thanks to a life-changing trip to Mayo Clinic. Amarachi has a condition called Blount's disease. Her mother, Modesther Austin-Okoh, says the family discovered the condition with Amarachi was just two years old. Todd Milbrandt, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic Children's Center, describes Blount's disease as "a failure of the growth plate to grow on the inside of the knee, specifically, the top part of the tibia." In Amarachi's case, her disease progressed to the point where she had severely bowed legs. "We wish we could have seen her walk and be like other children," her mother says. "We were always crying for her."
For six months, Chad Thompson slept sitting up to ease debilitating headaches caused by a tumor growing on a nerve in his head. Now, after a successful surgery at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus in March, the 40-year-old Jacksonville resident is having conversations with friends and co-workers that he never expected. “People keep asking, ‘When are you going to have that surgery,’” says Chad, a married father of three children and an executive at an aerospace company. “They’re shocked when I say, ‘I already had it,’ and I’m not sure they believe me.” The reason for this response is that he has no visible scars from the operation, which his surgeon, John Casler, M.D., performed with help from the Anatomage “virtual dissection” machine in the J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver Simulation Center.
For years, Lucy Lorden suffered from an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. But one April morning in 2014, the Ormond Beach, Florida, elementary school teacher was barely able to walk from the parking lot to her classroom. Thinking she had pneumonia, Lucy, then 56, went to see her primary care doctor. “The doctor told me to go to the emergency room right away,” she recalls. “My heart was beating at 192 beats per minute.” At the local hospital, doctors diagnosed Lucy with atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the upper heart chambers, the atria, beat irregularly. Lucy visited a local cardiologist, who prescribed several medications to regulate her rapid heartbeat and her thyroid levels. He advised follow-up every three months and once she turned 60, blood thinners to prevent a stroke. Unfortunately, just a few months shy of her 57th birthday, she would need more than simple follow-up.
When 67-year-old Stefan Gyorkos of St. Augustine, Florida, noticed swelling in his feet several years ago, he didn't think much of it. After all, as chef at a local golf and country club, he is on his feet for hours at a time. That seemingly innocent ailment, however, would eventually lead to a series of tests and ultimately a diagnosis of a rare disease known as amyloidosis for which he required a bone marrow transplant at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. Amyloidosis occurs when a substance called amyloid builds up in the organs. Amyloid is an abnormal protein that is usually produced in the bone marrow and can be deposited in any tissue or organ in the body. Severe amyloidosis can lead to life-threatening organ failure. While there's no cure for the disease, the symptoms often can be managed, reducing the production of amyloid protein.
Marlow Cowan, whose playful piano duet in our Mayo Clinic atrium with his wife, Frances, became a YouTube sensation and led to national and international TV appearances, has passed away at age 97. I got the news early yesterday in an email from the Cowans’ daughter, DeDe Shour: One of the last questions a week ago my Dad asked me was, "Do you think there will be a piano in heaven I can play?" (Of course our Dad could never pass up a piano without playing it). I told him I was certain there was something similar to a piano but much more glorious and that I was sure he would be joining with the angels playing it for the Lord. So if you happen to hear some rag-time music floating through the air, smile....cause it's just our dad playing the piano as he brings joy to those who have gone before him. Mr. Cowan certainly brought joy to millions while he was here. So with DeDe’s permission, I want to share some memories of Marlow and also let you remember (or see for the first time) for yourself.
Before October 2015, Brennan Farley had never broken a bone in his body. That changed dramatically when a horrific vehicle accident landed the 30-year-old farm worker in Mayo Clinic Hospital, Saint Marys Campus, for two months. Due to Brennan's extensive injuries, doctors were concerned he might not be able to walk again. But with the help of a supportive care team and the love and encouragement of his fiancée, Kayla, Brennan progressed enough in his recovery to go home in December 2015. And to walk down the aisle at the end of his wedding ceremony a month later, with a little help and with his new bride by his side. "The people at Saint Marys really cared about me," Brennan says. "They want their work to be great, and it shows. It really shows." And he would certainly need their best efforts.
Bridget Clausen refers to her seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren as "the love of my life." She treasures each of them and is proud to have a great-granddaughter named after her. The joy of a namesake is especially sweet, because when Bridget learned her granddaughter was pregnant, she wasn't sure she would be here to meet the baby. At that time, Bridget was being treated for melanoma that had spread to several places in her body. Her treatment choices were dwindling. She decided to go to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to see if doctors could offer any other options. As a result of that visit, Bridget enrolled in a clinical trial of a new drug. It turned out to be the answer she needed. The drug, now available under the brand name Keytruda, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in December 2015 as a first-line treatment for advanced melanoma. Interestingly, the foundation of the drug's development began in a Mayo Clinic lab more than 15 years ago. In Bridget's case, it successfully shrunk her tumors and stopped the spread of cancer. It also gave her the opportunity to meet her new great-granddaughter.
At the age of 47, Parry Winder was looking forward to a bright future. Retired from two decades as a test and fighter pilot in the United States Air Force, Parry had transitioned into a non-military role that he relished as a commercial pilot and flight instructor. But in an instant, an accident brought Parry's aspirations for his new career crashing down. Left with debilitating pain, Parry was forced to quit flying. He thought he'd never return to the cockpit. After searching for answers for more than eight years, though, he found the Pain Clinic at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus was able to offer a solution. Today, Parry is pain-free and back in the skies again.