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Paul W Second Chances: A Wound Care Success Story

54-year-old Roselle resident Paul Wendel and his wife Adrienne believe in second chances. The couple fosters kittens for a local rescue organization that finds forever homes for abandoned animals. Mr. Wendel got a second chance at having an active life when he received care for his injured foot

54-year-old Roselle resident Paul Wendel and his wife Adrienne believe in second chances. The couple fosters kittens for a local rescue organization that finds forever homes for abandoned animals. Mr. Wendel got a second chance at having an active life when he received care for his injured foot.

Walking in his backyard last year, Mr. Wendel cut his foot. He cleaned the wound and applied a bandage, but with each passing day, the cut grew worse.

Mr. Wendelhas diabetes, and nonhealing wounds are a common complication for people living with the disease.

“Higher than normal blood sugar levels in people with diabetes can cause nerve damage and poor circulation in their feet,” says Jane Afremova, RN, Program Director at the Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway. “So, when Mr. Wendel cut his foot, he didn’t recognize the severity of the injury until he saw the tissue decaying only three days later. His infection was caused by an anaerobic bacteria that destroys tissue and moves very quickly.”

“When I noticed a nickel-sized hole in my left foot and realized my fifth toe had turned gray, I knew my foot looked like it was in critical condition,” Mr. Wendel says. “Adrienne and I headed immediately to the Emergency Department.”

Facing the possibility of losing his foot, Mr. Wendel received wound care treatment at the Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine at RWJ Rahway.

A Matter of Tissue

For Mr. Wendel, a minor foot injury resulted in a critical infection, which caused toxic air pockets to develop between the skin and bone. In his case, the gas destroyed the tissue in his fifth toe and was threatening his entire foot.

“Gangrene spread from the outside of his foot and was nearing his fourth toe when he arrived in our Emergency Department,” says Marshall Feldman, DPM, podiatrist and wound care specialist at RWJ Rahway. “After running tests to confirm my diagnosis, I removed the decayed tissue along the side of his foot and amputated his infected toe.”

Allowing the wound to drain, Dr. Feldman left the wound open and started Mr. Wendel on a combination of therapies at the Center for Wound Healing & Hyperbaric Medicine.

Taking Action

Mr. Wendel received IV antibiotics and negative pressure wound therapy to stimulate tissue growth. He also completed 50 hyperbaric oxygen treatments. When Mr. Wendel was nearly healed, Dr. Feldman performed three skin grafts to ensure complete wound closure.

“In the long run, fast action and following the doctor’s orders saved his leg from amputation,” Ms. Afremova says. “Mr. Wendel did everything we asked him to do.”

After a few months of recovery, Mr. Wendel is back to work. He makes sure to wear socks and shoes, inside and outside the house, to prevent further injury.