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James Garza

Salem, SC
  • Amputation
  • Bone Infection
  • Limb Salvage

Hello, I’m James Garza from South Carolina. I’m a 31 year old, married, man working as a Certified Welding Inspector for a living. My journey with HSS, Dr. Rozbruch, Dr. Otterburn, Dr. Miller and the rest of Dr. Rozbruch’s team began in January of 2013. However, the real journey for me began after a terrible motorcycle accident that happened July, 4th 2012.

Before the accident my wife Tammy and I were very active people enjoying hiking and motorcycling as our favorite hobbies as we live in a beautiful area in the foothills of South Carolina just minutes away from lovely lakes, rivers, and mountains. I’m also the main bread-winner for my wife and I with plans to build a house first and then a family. So, you can imagine my eagerness to get “back in the game!” However, the accident didn’t afford me a swift recovery; there would be no fast options for me if I wanted to save my leg. In fact for over 2 years crutches became my legs! Don’t worry; I still have one perfectly normal leg. Thank the Lord!!!

Just hours after my accident doctors at my local hospital were asking my wife for consent to amputate my left leg after having trouble finding a pulse near the foot area complicated by a severe loss of muscle mass and soft tissue. While discussing amputation to the lower left leg, the vascular doctor who was still with me found a faint pulse so, at that time we decided to proceed trying to save the leg. Without the use of antibiotics, for the next 6 months, I worked with doctors near home as they tried to patch up the severed at both ends, over 6 inch piece of bone together with bone grafting and bone cement. They also tried to resolve the issue of massive soft tissue damage and muscle loss with muscle and skin grafts. They eventually said there was too much infection in the bone and they encouraged me to amputate. The soft tissue issues were still a problem too. I still had a large gabbing hole in my leg. I couldn’t use the leg anyway so, I decided to take a little time and figure out where I wanted to go from here.

Even though I didn’t get to use the leg normally for another 2 years a new leaf had turned. My mother found Hospital for Special Surgery and Dr. Rozbruch of New York, NY! Immediately his office assistant Omirah scheduled us for a consultation with Dr. Rozbruch who had great interest in my case. So in the beginning of 2013 we were headed to New York! My family and I were all amazed at how quickly Dr. Rozbruch checked me out and formulated a base plan of action should we proceed with him! He knew exactly what he would do and how he would do it with the help of his colleague Dr. Otterburn (for skin grafting and muscle and soft tissue repair). He did warn us that the road ahead was not for the faint of heart for there were many issues to address. But we just couldn’t believe our ears! The doctors at home gave me little to no hope of saving my leg while Dr. Rozbruch gave me a 100% yes we can do this, with at least a 90% chance of success of having a functioning leg after it’s all said and done!!! I honestly had set myself up for losing the leg, I was okay with that. I just wanted to hear a second opinion to make sure I was doing the right thing. I was 29 years old when I first visited Dr. Rozbruch and it hasn’t been easy, but I am so thankful and happy to have had the opportunity to have this experience. Now I’ll proceed with the story…

To keep the leg, or not to keep the leg? Now that is the question…I think KEEP THE LEG!!!! Dr. Rozbruch wasn’t lying. I had to go through reconstructive surgery before I could even start the bone transport that would re-grow over 6 inches of bone. I had to have weeks and weeks of IV antibiotic treatment not once but twice during the whole process. These situations aren’t exact science you know, so there were a couple of bumps along the way, but Dr. Rozbruch handled them as if it was an exact science and he never once let me or my wife lose faith in him…we had complete trust in God and in Dr. Rozbruch!!! He always tackled the obstacles with swift precision (not to say the recovery stages were swift-lol) and I could not have asked for a more concerned, sincere doctor/surgeon.

For the first few months we stayed in Connecticut while I received the antibiotic treatments. Then we traveled at first every two weeks or when surgeries were needed, then once a month, then every 2 months, then as needed from South Carolina. I have to say, Hospital for Special Surgery helped me tremendously. Their staff was incredibly wonderful to me and my wife. My case worker Megan still to present day makes wonders happen for me and Dr. Rozbruch’s staff (Dustin, Omaira, Rosa, Erica and the rest) are the best! I don’t think Dr. Rozbruch would have you unless you were the best of the best so I hope you all know just how awesome you all are!!!

For me, putting the last (almost) 3 years now in perspective is still kind of hard. There were so many stages of sitting and waiting on my body to go through the long processes it needed to, to heal. Even just getting to Dr. Rozbruch was a phase. Then there was the soft tissue issues and IV Antibiotics phase. Then there was the 9-month baby phase (my wife calls it-lol). This is the part where I wore the external fixator for 9 months while it pulled my bone down as new bone grew in behind it. Then the phasing out of the crutches-finally yippie!!!! And now for the best part…all of a sudden life begins to move again…on its own!

It’s been 2 months now since Dr. Rozbruch cleared me with no limitations!!! For 1 ½ months of that time I’m very proud to say I’ve been working as a Certified Welding Inspector with no major problems at all. My wife and I have high hopes now and we are saving our money in hopes that, in maybe the not so far away future, we will be able to make plans to build a house and a family.

I have to say in closing, that my wife has been my rock through all of this. She was the one who drove me 13 hours up and down the east coast time and time again. She stayed with me and became my 24/7 nurse for all this time making sure I did what I needed to, to take care of myself and to ensure my optimal recovery, and she was my travel companion being that I couldn’t drive for a long time and I couldn’t lug one suitcase around (a back-pack was about it). None of this could have happened without her, my mother, other family members, or Dr. Rozbruch and his team. I’m so blessed and thankful to have even had the opportunity to travel up and down the east coast to see Dr. Rozbruch for care. I would urge anyone with any limb strengthening/lengthening situation to please give his office a call. This goes for HSS also. If you choose to let him be your doctor you won’t be sorry. I can’t promise it won’t hurt or take some time but the results are unquestionably awesome. Whatever you have to invest; time, money, tireless hours of driving-invest, it because it’s worth it.

Thank you so much Dr. Rozbruch…we could never thank you enough! The strength, assertiveness, and confidence you showed in working on saving my leg is something me and my wife really, really needed. I’m so thankful you are the person you are and I hope you know how awesome you are! We thank God for you and we are so happy, blessed, thankful, and proud to say…thank you Dr. Rozbruch and HSS for putting me “back in the game!”

God Bless,

James Garza