That’s what 29-year-old Kevin Neary told the Philadelphia Inquirer in a March 26th article. But it has been an incredibly hard journey to reach that remarkable conclusion. After being shot in a robbery last November nearby his residence in Philadelphia, Neary remains completely paralyzed. Since then, his journey has gone from desperation and darkness, to hope and determination.
On March 27th, Neary underwent surgery with Dr. Matthew Kaufman of The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction and the Center for the Treatment of Paralysis at Jersey Shore Medical Center, in an effort to salvage Neary’s phrenic nerve and install a pacemaker to hopefully make his diaphragm work.
The phrenic nerve controls function of the diaphragm muscle – the primary muscle involved in breathing. Contraction of the diaphragm muscle permits expansion of the chest cavity and inhalation of air into the lungs.
The Inquirer legitimately characterized this difficult procedure as having only a “moderate” chance of success. Then again, Dr. Kaufman’s phrenic nerve patients, who come from around the country and the world, hear that kind of discouraging news from other doctors all the time. That’s why they seek him out.
Fate dealt Kevin Neary a devastating blow, but fate also landed him in the hands of Dr. Kaufman, who is the only known surgeon to perform nerve transplantation to reverse phrenic nerve damage.
“Kevin’s procedure went much better than anticipated. We went into the surgery anticipating severe nerve damage and were elated when both phrenic nerves responded to external stimulation. The prospect of him successfully weaning from the ventilator is excellent. We will be initiating this process in two weeks and are hopeful that he will be breathing independently in the weeks and months to come.” – Dr. Kaufman
In the Inquirer article, Neary concluded, “If I can get off the ventilator for six hours, that’s a work day, or enough time to enjoy a Phillies game,” Neary said. “Work is a big part of who I am. It’s work and baseball for me.”
At the hands of Dr. Matthew Kaufman, Neary may, in fact, see the World Series hopeful Phillies repeat their 2008 title.
Neary underwent surgery with Dr. Matthew Kaufman of The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction and the Center for the Treatment of Paralysis at Jersey Shore Medical Center, in an effort to salvage Neary’s phrenic nerve.