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New Nerve Procedure Repairs a Woman's Leg

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A team at the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital used a new procedure to help repair a young woman's nerve in her upper leg.

The team first met the patient, Danielle Press, at Ryder Trauma after her leg was damaged by a propeller in a boating accident off Key Biscayne.

Last month Press' upper left thigh was hit by a propeller when the 26-year old jumped into to the water off the back of a boat. It was a life threatening injury.

"The first thing was saving her life and then saving her leg," said Dr. Allan Levi, a Jackson Memorial Hospital neurosurgeon.

Dr. Levi said her sciatic nerve which controls your movement and sensation was injured and had to be repaired by using Press' own nerve cells.

"The Miami Project and U.M. has been working on Schwan cell transplantation for two decades working on it for spinal cord injuries, but it's also possible to use in nervous system," said Dr. Levi.

They used her own Schwann cells

"We used her nerves to repair it which is standard but we also took cells from her nerve …grown in culture and then put back in her nerve to give her more nerve material," said Dr. Levi.

Now, just a month after the life threatening accident, Press is recovering and being watched as the nerve cells continue to grow as her leg regains movement and feeling.
"When I put things in perspective I feel I've come a long way," said Press.

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