Doctors in 2 Cities Give Airman a Second Chance at Life - NBC4 Washington

Doctors in 2 Cities Give Airman a Second Chance at Life



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    A team of surgeons at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the University of Miami performed a break through surgery to save an airman's life.

    A 21-year-old Airman is recovering after being shot and undergoing an unprecedented surgery. Senior Airman Tre Porfirio was shot three times during battle in Afghanistan last month.

    Immediately following his wounds, medics performed life-saving surgery. Within three days he was flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

    Surgeons at Walter Reed removed what was left of Porfirio's pancreas after they discovered it was leaking dangerous enzymes that were causing internal damage. They quickly had it transported to the University of Miami.

    At 11 p.m. the night before Thanksgiving, a team at the Diabetes Research Institute at the university worked for six hours isolating and repairing the insulin producing cells from Porfirio's pancreas. Less than 24 hours later they flew the cells back to Walter Reed.

    On Thanksgiving afternoon surgeons at Walter Reed were able to successfully inject the cells into the patient's liver, with the Miami team coordinating the procedure via the internet.

    Walter Reed officials said this is the first known case of successful isolation and transplantation of insulin producing cells following a severe trauma that required complete removal of the pancreas.

    Had they not have been able to complete the surgery, Porfirio would have suffered from life-style changing diabetes. Twenty days after the surgery, Porfirio is expected to recover from his wounds and that he is making great progress, Walter Reed officials said.