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Surgeons use innovative treatment to save trauma patient’s life

July 19, 2016 by Amy Holcombe

GREENVILLE – “They called me the miracle man.” This is how Ronald Sharpe, from Pendleton, N.C. in Northampton County, described meeting the clinicians who helped to give him a second chance at life. Sharpe’s liver was severely injured following a motorcycle accident in March 2016.

Sharpe was taken into emergency surgery after arriving by ambulance at Vidant Medical Center. Dr. Mark A. Newell, associate professor of acute care surgery, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, and Dr. Janet Tuttle-Newhall, chair of surgery at Brody and surgeon-in-chief for Vidant Medical Center, were able to control the bleeding from the injury. However, the next morning, Sharpe’s vital signs began to decline.

Newell and Tuttle-Newhall believed putting Sharpe on a bypass machine could give them a chance to control the bleeding.

It was an innovative decision to use venovenous bypass for a trauma patient. This procedure is typically used for liver transplant surgery. In Sharpe’s case, using venovenous bypass, blood was transported away from the liver allowing the surgeons to repair the damaged organ while maintaining circulation to the rest of the patient's organs.

“There is no question in my mind that placing the patient on bypass allowed us to maintain his vital signs while simultaneously controlling bleeding from his liver,” said Newell. “This patient would have bled to death if bypass had not been utilized.”

Sharpe was amazed by the surgeons’ and staffs’ collaboration to save his life. “The entire medical team rushed to my care and used incredible teamwork to save my life,” Sharpe said. “They are such an amazing team, and I would like to say thank you to the surgeons and the entire staff.”

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