New Nonprofit Aims to Curve Down the Number Amputations Among Hispanics
By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Just recently, Dr. Pedro Mego, a board-certified Interventional Cardiologist, opened his new office in Mission Texas. He diagnoses and treats Peripheral Artery Disease and Chronic Venous Disease.
Based on his experience, he told Mega Doctor News that he is supporting the idea of the formation of a Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) Salvage Club in Mission.
For that, I spoke to Scott Portney, the director of community outreach for CLI and Limb Salvage Club. He said that critical limb ischemia or CLI is the most severe form of peripheral artery disease, and the purpose of creating a club with a board is to educate the public of the severity prevalent in Mission and the western area.
Scott pointed out that their message is for everyone to learn, with topics like diabetes, peripheral artery disease, critical limb ischemia, amputation prevention, and alternative limb salvage procedures.
“Amputation and critical limb ischemia are more prevalent in Hispanic communities, Native American and African American communities.” Portney said, “The mortality rate after amputation is 40 to 50% after five years.” The sadness is that most people aren’t aware when they have it. Portney himself wasn’t informed about CLI until he got involved with the organization.
Bruce Johnson, Chief Development Officer for Arise Vascular, is a volunteer for the South Texas CLI club said that many people are shocked when they learn how many unnecessary amputations are happening in this country every single day. Also, he said, “How many amputations are preventable with a simple outpatient procedure that revascularizes the leg.”
He explained that the procedure called peripheral endovascular when they’re able to go in, and with a small wire, the doctor can go in for the blockage and either laser it, use a stent or a balloon, and the patients go home in four hours.
Bruce also said that many people don’t know about the simple solution of the procedure. “For example, if someone’s had a little toe amputated, that’s a screaming red light on their dashboard.”
He emphasized that if this happened, the need for a vascular study is imminent because the next step will be the foot, then the ankle, and then the leg. “After a major amputation, life expectancy is only three to five years,” he said.
Jared Leger is the CEO and Managing Partner of Arise Vascular based in Austin, Texas. He is another volunteer for the nonprofit organization in the process of being formed.
Jared is also one of the founding board members of the CLI Limb Salvage club, a 501c3 seeking to educate folks on amputation awareness and how to look at strategies to keep unnecessary amputations from happening. “We started six years ago, in 2014,” he said. Jared also feels the same way that education on the subject can save legs and lives.
He said that their effort aims to reach out to the entire community, not just the medical community. “Civic leaders, academia, business leaders, and philanthropists.” He said, “Once the whole community is involved in understanding the severity of the amputation problem, then we’re ready to deal with this crisis.”
The formation of the nonprofit to serve Mission and the Valley is in full process. Scott, the director of community outreach for the CLI club of South Texas, is working full time to make this happen, first by putting together the board with members to represent a crossed section of the community in Mission.
Scott said that once the board is formed, there will be quarterly meetings to address these issues and educating the community on prevention. Scott is stationed in Austin, so he will be traveling to the Valley to be part of these meetings.
Scott has a degree in kinesiology; he took the opportunity to work in this project after he sold his two gyms. He is now in charge of helping open more chapters of CLI across the country. “Our flagship chapter is in Lafayette, Louisiana, where we’ve grown to over 600 attendees at the meetings.”
According to him, the plan is to open the first one here in Mission so that it will be the South Texas chapter. Bruce added that this disease affects everyone. “So, probably you know someone in your family, or you have friends that have dealt with this.” He said, “Diabetes is closely associated with PAD, which is closely associated with amputation, but the good news is these can be prevented,” he said.