Nearly half of unhealed diabetic foot ulcers result in death within five years. In fact, 85% of lower-limb amputations in patients with diabetes are preceded with a foot ulcer, according to Diabetes Care. New Cardiovascular Horizons estimates the associated cost with amputations is $10-20 billion, every single year. These figures are staggering.
The consequences of amputations are devastating, yet many amputations can be prevented through early screenings and care. The Save a Leg, Save a Life (SALSAL) Foundation aims to reduce the incidence of lower-extremity amputations through education and patient advocacy. The SALSAL Foundation works closely with First Coast Cardiovascular Institute to inspire hope in those patients told nothing could be done for them.
Of the people who have benefited from the work of the SALSAL Foundation is Carla Urff. Carla has been a diabetic since the age of 11. She found out she had peripheral artery disease (PAD) at the age of 37. “In less than 2 years of diagnosis, they told me I needed to prepare for amputation because I had developed gangrene in the foot,” Carla said. She had several surgical procedures, which bought her some years, but were not a permanent solution.
After developing gangrene a second time and having three toes turn black, Carla decided to search the internet for a solution. She found the SALSAL Foundation and contacted Dr. Desmond Bell, the Founder & President of the SALSAL Foundation, as well as a top Wound Care Specialist. “He sent me to an Interventional Cardiologist, Dr. Yazan Khatib, who confirmed he could help me,” Carla says.
“Dr. Khatib started cleaning out my arteries and stenting, putting stents in my legs and my heart,” Carla says. Dr. Khatib worked on her for five and a half hours straight to get the first stent in.
“He was not going to stop. He told me I can fix this,” Carla says, “I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I was, knowing that I was so close to amputation, that there was actually help out there.” Carla now lives a healthy life without the fear of amputation.
It is stories like Carla that inspires Dr. Bell to spread the mission of the SALSAL Foundation. “We are trying to educate people so they can be proactive and avoid getting to a state where amputation is their only choice,” Dr. Bell says.
To learn more about the Save a Leg, Save a Life Foundation or to donate to the cause, visit www.thesalsal.org. Donations will go towards raising awareness and assisting those in need to purchase diabetic shoes, socks, and supplies for PAD screenings.
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