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ANKLE SURGERY GIVES PATIENT LIFE BACK
Sally VanDeventer, of Grosse Pointe Farms, fractured her ankle when she was 17 years old. She hit a tree while she was tobogganing. Her ankle began bothering her again years later. She tried various treatment options. “It was extremely painful. I tried to put off surgery as long as I could,” she said. Nothing worked.
VanDeventer knew she needed an ankle replacement. So, the 78-year-old started researching doctors and found Beaumont orthopedic surgeon Zachary Vaupel, M.D.
“I was impressed by his office. Dr. Vaupel was likable and competent. I knew Beaumont had a strong reputation,” VanDeventer said. “There are not a lot of people who do this procedure and who have experience. I wanted to go with a doctor who knew what he was doing.”
Dr. Vaupel, a foot and ankle specialist, performed the surgery at Beaumont, Royal Oak. After several weeks of physical therapy, VanDeventer said she finally got her life back after suffering with pain for years.
Dr. Vaupel added, “It’s always gratifying to see my patients feel better. Ankle replacement is a technical, challenging procedure and you need to be precise. Before the surgery, every step she took caused her pain. Now, she’s able to garden again.”
Foot Patient from Lansing Area Was Running Out of Options
Marc Mauren, 32, of Grand Ledge was born with clubfoot. By the 6th grade, he had six surgeries on his right foot and doctor visits were commonplace. But, he was the type of boy who never let his physical deficiencies hold him back. Marc went on to be a high school football player as well as an avid skier and golfer. It seemed he could overcome every obstacle placed in front of him.
Clubfoot is a common congenital deformity. For Marc, his ankle bones didn’t form correctly, causing his right foot to rotate inward at the ankles and because his heel never touched the ground, he was always walking on his tiptoes. This condition can be as common as one in 1,000 births and affects males twice as often as females.
However, as he became an adult, Marc’s condition began causing bigger issues. He started having back and hip problems. His mobility diminished. His pain grew unbearable. Doctors in the Lansing area then gave him some of the worst news of his life. They recommended that he have his right foot amputated.
After leaving in disbelief, Marc was determined to find another option.
Through his aunt, he learned of Paul Fortin M.D., Beaumont Orthopedic foot and ankle specialist based in Royal Oak. In the summer of 2008, during his initial meeting with Dr. Fortin, Marc’s attitude and outlook began to improve.
“Dr. Fortin had such a calming effect and confidence about him when he talked about what we could do to improve my situation without amputating my foot,” says Marc. “He was one of the first doctors to really show an interest in me as a person and not a number on a medical record. He took his time explaining my options and took even more time to let me ask questions and make sure he fully answered them. I got a great vibe from him.”
After weighing all the options, Dr. Fortin and Marc agreed on a plan of action. A metal frame with screws called an external fixator was placed into Marc’s foot for 10 months. Through daily adjustments to the device, it gradually moved his bones around to improve his foot positioning. This also took away a majority of his pain. Marc had four surgeries with Dr. Fortin. One was to place the external fixator, two for adjusting the pins anchored into his leg bones and the final was to remove the pins and fixator at the end of the treatment.
Royal Oak was a long drive for appointments, but well worth the time and distance to Marc and his wife Laura. In fact, Dr. Fortin was able to teach Laura how to make fixator adjustments on her own at home. Marc says, “She was kind of freaked out about it at first, but it helped that she could do almost all of the adjustments from home.”
“Marc is now seeing dramatic results,” says Dr. Fortin. “He is continuing to get stronger and stronger, and it’s rewarding to see him getting back to doing the things he enjoys, like walking the golf course. And, he and his wife made a trip to Disney World recently. Marc said during that trip it was his wife Laura trying to keep up with him!”
Now, the happy couple is awaiting their latest blessing. Their first child is due any day.
Marc’s message to others is simple. “Check out all your options and don’t accept an amputation diagnosis until you exhaust every other idea. Hopefully, you too will find a place like Beaumont and a doctor like Dr. Fortin.”
Marc and Laura Mauren during a recent California vacation.