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Miami Woman Thanks Doctors Who Saved Her Leg

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A woman who nearly lost her leg in a boating accident is giving thanks to the doctors that performed a miracle.

Danielle Press' sciatic nerve – which controls movement and sensation in the leg – was completely severed by a propeller in a boating accident in Key Biscayne.

"I remember being pulled under and then I remember coming out of the water," she said. "I should have lost my leg."

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Trauma surgeons first worked on saving Press' life following the accident. After she recovered from the near-death experience, Dr. Allan Levi worked on saving her leg.

Levi, a neurosurgeon at Jackson Memorial Hospital, performed an experimental procedure to heal her leg; the first of its kind.

With help from research through The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, Levi combined nerve grafting with Danielle's own Schwann cells in hopes of regenerating the nerve.

"It has never been done ever in the world. We took a very small biopsy of nerves that were already injured in Danielle's leg. We took those cells back to the laboratory and grew those cells in culture so we could make a new nerve for her."

Now Press not only walking, but said she is even exercising.

"It's an incredible gift to have a second chance."

A second chance that Press hopes can cure others.

"To be able to be a part of something like this that can possibly change things in the future for people with more severe injuries, it's just the most amazing opportunity," she said.

Thanks to the success surgery, Levi is leading a clinical trial to get the procedure approved by the FDA to help cure paralysis.


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