Here at LifeCenter Northwest we continuously strive to expand our knowledge and collaboration in order to serve more people through organ and tissue donation. This year we established a partnership with AxoGen, a nerve repair company. Axogen offers a unique portfolio of nerve repair technologies, including a method of processing a human nerve allograft for the repair of gaps in injured peripheral nerve tissue.
Peripheral nerves are the wires of the body and control sensation and movement. Patients with nerve damage can experience a wide range of symptoms from numbness to pain and, sometimes, complete loss of function and movement.
“Peripheral nerve recovery is an exciting addition to our professional skill set and will support the provision of this transplant resource to patients and surgeons in our region,” said LifeCenter Northwest Director of Tissue Donation Services Jan Hendrix.
Statistics show that more than 1.4 million people experience a traumatic nerve injury in the United States each year with more than 900,000 requiring a surgical intervention. The traditional surgical method of repair typically includes the use of healthy nerve tissue from elsewhere in the patient’s body. This procedure is known as an autograft and is more surgically invasive and often leaves a feeling of numbness in its place.
Injuries to peripheral nerves are most common among military service men and women. Edward Bonfiglio, a Navy corpsman was serving in Afghanistan when his unit was ambushed. He took a round to the sciatic nerve on his left leg, causing him to lose all feeling and function below his knee.
Amputation seemed like the obvious choice, but for Edward that wasn’t even an option. He wanted to keep his leg. Despite the sciatic nerve damage, due to his age and the health of rest of his leg he and his surgeon opted for a nerve allograft to bridge the severed nerves. Because of Axogen’s processes, the 5 centimeter gap between his nerves was able to be supplemented with donated nerve tissue – the 5 centimeter graft was the biggest to ever be used at that time.
Today, Edward walks and jogs independently, two activities on a long list of things he would not be able to do without peripheral nerve recovery from Axogen.
See more about Edward’s story here: