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A 1,000 Mile Journey for a Second Opinion Saves Veteran’s Leg

While at BMC, Edward underwent a very extensive limb preservation evaluation.
Dr. Vickie Driver was able to preserve both of Edward Schmidt’s legs
from below-the-knee amputations. Edward (left) formed a close bond
with his BMC care team and even volunteered in BMC’s Foot Care Clinic
while recovering from his surgery.

Edward Schmidt, a 14-year army veteran from Kansas City, Missouri, was 50 years old when an infection in his right foot required the amputation of his toe. When his sores and infections persisted after the surgery, however, he became frustrated by a series of ineffective treatments that his doctors prescribed.

“It seemed like I was in the hospital for a week every month,” remembers Edward, a diabetic who had a history of foot problems related to his disease.

After the infection in his foot continued to show little improvement, Edward couldn’t believe it when his Kansas City doctors suggested amputating his right leg below the knee. It was a horrific déjà vu scenario for him. Only a year before they had told him he would have to undergo an amputation of his left leg due to a similar bone infection. He felt deeply that there had to be an alternative to such a drastic procedure.

“I have a family and young grandchildren. I really wanted to be able to stay as active and as independent as possible for them,” says Edward.

He turned to Vickie Driver, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S., an internationally known expert in limb preservation, who had performed the surgery that saved his other leg. Dr. Driver has worked with veterans her entire career, receiving her medical and surgical training at VA and military hospitals. It was her article about preventing amputation in military veterans that initially inspired Edward to reach out to her for help.

Dr. Driver said she could see Edward as soon as he could travel to Boston Medical Center, where as director of Clinical Research and Foot Care, Vascular and Endovascular Specialists, she was leading a multidisciplinary team of clinical researchers focused on amputation prevention and diabetes-related wound management.

“Ed has very limited feeling in his feet due to diabetes, therefore he, like many others, wears a hole in his foot just like you would a shoe. Once this happens, infection is often imminent, which is one reason why there is such a risk for amputation in diabetics,” explains Dr. Driver, who suffers from diabetes herself.

Once Edward arrived at BMC, he underwent a very extensive limb preservation evaluation by Dr. Driver and her team. They determined that it would be possible to save his foot, and Dr. Driver performed several surgeries to remove the infection. After the procedures, he enrolled in one of BMC’s advanced wound healing clinical research trials. He stayed in Boston for several months while his infection resolved and his wound healed. While Edward stayed in Boston to heal, he generously donated his time to volunteer in BMC’s Foot Care Clinic while he waited to be able to go home.

“Ed is very loved by our team. He was eager to tell others about his experience and to share ways for others to get help and to seek additional opinions. Ed is a real inspiration for those who suffer from diabetic foot problems,” says Dr. Driver.

Edward surprised his family on Christmas Eve, when he arrived home in time for dinner, having driven nearly 1,600 miles from Boston by himself. Today, he remains at home in Missouri and is healthy. He can stand and walk on his own again with the help of a special boot.

“With Dr. Driver taking care of me, I’m not the least bit worried,” says Edward. “She’s always looking for another solution, another answer. She’s amazing, and the people working with her at BMC are great.”