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Gabe Capobianchi

Wallkill, NY
  • Bone Infection

I own a machine shop that repairs boat propellers for the the marine industry in Hudson Valley. In May of 2016, at the beginning of our busy season I was working on a shaft that was in a lathe. I'm not sure how, but the next thing I knew, my arm was being pulled into a machine that was running at 600 rpms. It resulted in a crushing injury that included a broken humerus, a fractured ulna, my radius shattered, and a deep laceration across my hand that severed a nerve. I was lucky to even be alive.

After 4 surgeries in my area I was still in severe pain and my arm immobile. The area doctors were unsuccessful in treating this severe injury. My doctors diagnosis was that I would only regain 60-70% use of my arm and hand, and should be prepared to live with some amount of pain in my hand.

I was not ready to accept that.

After endless hours and countless days of research, everything pointed to Dr. Wolfe at HSS as being the best doctor for my case.

At our initial appointment Dr. Wolfe spent almost 3 hours with us. I was handing Dr. Wolfe a real mess. There was a lot going on between my arm and hand. Dr. Wolfe took the time to explain every scenario that could happen (good and bad) and answered all of our questions. I knew we were in the right hands when Dr. Wolfe finally said, "Well... Let's get you back to work." I realized then that Dr. Wolfe saw me as a person not just a patient. Out of all the doctors I had seen, he was the only one who saw past my injury.

After my 1st surgery, the results came back that I did have an infection in my surgical plates that were put in at the time of my accident. Dr. Wolfe called in Dr. Miller and Dr. Wellman to work on my case. Dr Miller found the exact medicine I needed to fight the infection. Dr. Wellman surgically removed my old hardware, pieces of my radius bones that had died from the infection and installed an external fixator in my arm to hold everything together while the infection cleared.

Over the course of the next 3 very long surgeries Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Wellman performed the Masquelet technique to grow new bone in my arm. Just amazing!

Throughout these surgeries, and my frequent overnight stays, everyone at HSS treated me like their brother or son. It was a great experience.

My confidence level grew as the surgeries went on. The pain in my hand and arm started to disappear. My fingers, hand, and arm all started to move freely again. It was amazing. Having Dr. Wolfe and Dr. Wellman work on me at the same time surgically was like having Michael Jordan and LeBron James on your basketball team! I just knew we would win.

On March 27th, almost a year after my accident, 8 combined surgeries, and over 40 hours of surgical procedures, we had a follow up with Dr. Wolfe from my last surgery in January. He gave us the great news. The Masquelet technique was working, and the new bone was taking. We hugged Dr. Wolfe, I cried, we laughed, and we hugged again and of course a picture!

On our way home, my girlfriend, who has been a rock for me throughout this adventure, had me pull over on top of Storm King Mountain and told me to yell it out! I yelled "YES" "YES" "YES" what a great feeling! I was fixed!!! I'm on my way to being ME again!

That 60-70% recovery is in the rear view mirror already and no pain. I won't be 100%, but I'm shooting for 99%. It's all thanks to Dr. Wolfe, Dr. Wellman and this incredible place called Hospital for Special Surgery.

I will be forever grateful to Dr. Wolfe - he saved my life.

Gabe Capobianchi