Spinal injury victim receives groundbreaking surgery
POMPANO BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A groundbreaking medical device gave a teenage athlete a breath of life and just one hospital in South Florida was authorized to perform the surgery.
A smile lit up Reggie Lamour's face, Monday. It's been a tough road for him. Back in January, he was paralyzed while playing rugby with his team in Naples. He was tackled, and the force broke his neck.
Lamour said the experience was terrifying. "At first I thought I was back on the field, and then I was at the hospital, and I tried moving, but I couldn't move, so I tried going back to sleep thinking that it was a dream or something."
The reality was that his injury damaged his nerves, not allowing him to breathe on his own. That was the case until Dr. Patricia Byers, a trauma surgeon at Jackson Memorial Hospital implanted a special device. "This fires, so that now he is able to breathe normally," said Byers, "breathing in."
The device is called a diaphragm pacing system or DPS and acts just like a pacemaker. "The vent is so annoying," said Lamour, "and the DPS is just normal. I feel so much better with it."
The late Christopher Reeve helped create the device after his spinal cord injury, and he was the first to use one.
Above all, the device gives people with spinal injuries freedom. "Going out to places," said Lamour, "eating a little bit better, and I could taste the flavors a lot better now."
Flavors Reggie, just like any other 18-year-old, really savors. "McDonald's for breakfast," said Lamour. "Chinese for lunch and McDonald's and Chinese for dinner."
Reggie spends a lot of time in the living room watching television. The rehab center is a home, and they said they want their patients to feel very comfortable.
The good news is Lamour will be going back to his real home on the West Coast of Florida in June. "It is hard at first, but progress comes one step at a time."
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