Testimonials: Dr. Kaufman

Jose’s Story: Occipital Neuralgia Following Car Accident

Phrenic Nerve Reconstruction Success Story

Phrenic Nerve Pain Relief – Carter’s Story

Demetri’s Story – Phrenic Nerve Success Story

We Want to Thank Dr. Kaufman for Giving Mark His Life Back!

“We want to thank Dr. Kaufman for giving Mark his life back! Dr. Kaufman performed surgery on Mark last Friday at the Jersey Shore Medical Center in New Jersey, to repair his Phrenic nerve. Immediately following the surgery, Mark’s breathing improved dramatically! When Mark found out that his phrenic nerve was damaged and his right diaphragm was paralyzed, every doctor told us he will just have to learn to live with it, and that there is nothing that can be done. We found Dr. Kaufman by doing our own research on the internet and discovered this surgery is only done in two places in the world, Jersey Shore Medical Center of New Jersey, and UCLA plastic and reconstructive surgery in California, both places by Dr. Kaufman. People from all over the world come to see Dr. Kaufman. He is not only an amazing doctor, he is an amazing man, humble, and he TRULY CARES about his patients, that was clear to see. We will forever be grateful for our paths leading to this amazing doctor, amazing man. God Bless him.”


Wife of Mark, Patient of Dr. Matthew Kaufman

There Are No Words Good Enough to Explain the Extreme Gratitude I Have for Dr Kaufman and Dr Elkwood.

I had a totally paralyzed right diaphragm and had only about 40% normal breathing capacity overall. I had to be standing or sitting upright or on my bipap machine in order to breathe without feeling like I was suffocating. I couldn’t walk 100 feet without feeling like I was suffocating. I just had the Phrenic Nerve surgery done by Dr Kaufman and Dr Elkwood on 6/2/2017. These 2 experts gave me my lung back and I can live now without feeling like I am suffocating all the time. They took a nerve from my leg and fixed my Phrenic Nerve(next to my neck) with it and put a cadaver nerve in my leg. I know I could walk fast for a few miles if I wasn’t recuperating from my surgery and I’m sure I’ll be jogging again someday from the way I feel today. I actually walked at least a mile 3 days after my surgery getting to and from the airplanes. I’m sure I should have used a wheelchair but I just felt good to walk without suffocating. They also restored lost muscle function in my right arm which had weak spots. Everything went perfect. There are no words even close to saying how much admiration I have for Dr Kaufman and Dr Elkwood. They changed my life and gave me a miracle. I’m 61 years old but you two Doctors are my heroes for the rest of my life. I highly recommend these two miracle workers if you need a miracle like I did. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Don Thrash

Linda’s Story – Occipital Neuralgia

Linda was severely injured during a tornado. After returning home with an undiagnosed concussion, she began to suffer from debilitating complications, ranging from memory loss to severe, untreatable headaches. She was suffering from occipital neuralgia, a condition of the occipital nerves that causes severe pain. It was then that she found Dr. Kaufman of The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction, a world-renowned specialist in treating occipital neuralgia through nerve decompression.

Dr. Kaufman Has Not Only Restored My Quality of Life, but His Expertise Gives Hope to the Rest of the World as Well

In September 2010, I had right rotator cuff surgery and was given the usual nerve block for pain during and after surgery. A nerve block, being a blind procedure, damaged the phrenic nerve leaving the right diaphragm paralyzed causing difficulty breathing. Doctors said nothing could bring back normal breathing, “JUST LIVE WITH IT” the doctors said. For me it was very difficult to walk up stairs or just go for a short walk. Quality of life was in the “pits” for me until my wife ran into some online information about Dr. Kaufman and The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction.

February 17, 2012 was surgery day. After surgery I woke up to a breath of air I haven’t felt in a year and a half. Two days later I was taking longer and longer walks and now after one month I can even run for short periods.

Lung rehabilitation to strengthen my diaphragm is off to a good start. Dr. Kaufman and his team have given us more hope than we could possibly dream in such a short time. Dr. Kaufman has not only restored my quality of life, but his expertise gives hope to the rest of the world as well. Thank you and your team for such a wonderful gift.

– Tom Maddalla

The Reconstructed Area Looks Great.

Dr. Kaufman and all the staff I had contact with at The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction were caring, compassionate and helpful.  I had a complication with a reaction to the stitches and got extra care dealing with it and did not get an infection during the healing, which was a possibility.  I saw Dr. Ashinoff every other week and he was great too.  The reconstructed area looks great.

– Bertha Field

I Look About Ten Years Younger.

I have had shoulder problems for years. Dr Kaufman performed a breast reduction and did an excellent job. He also did work on my face and neck. I look about ten years younger. I highly recommend him.

– D.S.

I’m Very Grateful to Dr. Kaufman and His Staff.

I’ve been to many plastic surgeons because of my disorder. When I developed breast cancer I was directed to Dr. Kaufman. Not only is he an excellent surgeon, he’s compassionate and helps you feel at ease. His staff is very accommodating to your needs and making appointments that fit around your work schedule. They are always pleasant. I’m very grateful to Dr. Kaufman and his staff.

– B.R.

At 55 Years Old, I Never Thought I Could Look This Good!

I first met Dr. Matthew Kaufman years ago as an intensive care nurse taking care of one of his phrenic nerve stimulator patients post op (who did very well). Three years ago, I started a healthier lifestyle and lost 105 lbs. A year ago I had robotic abdominal surgery to remove a gastric tumor– fortunately benign. But the combination of the surgery with the loose skin from weight loss created very painful abdominal adhesions and cramping. My surgeon sent me to Dr. Kaufman. I am so glad he did, because the results are incredible! He was able to repair the adhesions and remove the excess abdominal skin. While I was at it, I had a breast lift and implants. At 55 years old, I never thought I could look this good! I highly recommend Dr. Kaufman!

– Kathleen Nicoll

It Makes Me so Happy to Know That Others Can Experience This “Miracle”

I had a paralyzed diaphragm due to a surgery in which my phrenic nerve was damaged. It left me in a wheelchair and unable to do little more than just take care of my personal needs. Due to Dr Kaufman’s skill, I was given my life back and am enjoying my family and activities once again. It makes me so happy to know that others can experience this “miracle,” and I am trying to get the word out about this surgery. By the way, I am 71 years old, so it’s never too late!

– Barbara

Barbara, whose surgery was on September 3, 2010, is out of the wheelchair and doing well. Of Dr. Kaufman’s nearly 70 phrenic nerve surgeries (as of 12/2012), Barbara was #14.

Kristen Kuczenski

Dear Dr. Kaufman,

Over the past several months, I’ve thought about and tried writing this on numerous occasions. It seemed nothing ever justified the gratitude I feel, or how deeply indebted I am to you for saving my life. I say that because I was at a crossroads in life, and if we had never crossed paths, I know I wouldn’t be here today.

I was in a car accident on March 3, 2007, exactly six months before my wedding, and everything changed. I was rear-ended at a red light on Route 6 in Dickson City, PA. I went to Mercy Hospital in Scranton after the accident, where they checked me out, pushed some pills, and sent me on my way with scheduled follow-ups.

I slowly started getting better everywhere, except my head. The left side of my head had a hyper-sensitivity that would bring me to tears instantaneously, and included a pain much like fireworks going off in my head. That created a build-up of pressure, leaving me with the desire to drill holes in my head.

I came to appreciate the small things in life I previously took for granted. I realized for the first time you really can’t judge a book by its cover, because as normal as I looked on the outside, no one knew the damage that my nerve sustained, or the amount of pain I was in and how it would impact my life and daily activities. Everything became a struggle, but through it all, I tried masking my injuries as much as I could, and tried to lead as much of a normal life without anyone knowing. My doctors and husband were the only people who really understood my daily struggles (maybe not fully, but they watched it firsthand) over the course of five years of treatments, whether oral or injectable. Certain treatment options helped, but nothing was ever long-term. After a time it became very evident I was not improving in the least.

I truly hid my pain from the entire world, except my doctors and husband. I watched as my OB-GYN dropped me as a patient after the accident because I would be a high-risk pregnancy. I located a new one, and even he referred me out of the area for a one-time consult, only to be told that with my medications, pregnancy was not in my near future. Now, after five years of marriage and my surgery, things seem to be looking a little more optimistic.

Last year, I was let go from my job as the employer began to outsource many positions in an effort to save money during this economic downturn. This finally gave me the opportunity to seek out the help I needed while looking for a new job. In addition, my health was rapidly declining, and I was only hanging on by a string.

My occipital neuralgia* was taking over my life. The pain was consuming me, so much so that I can honestly say I debated at times if I actually wanted to live. I was losing perspective. I tried so hard to fight the hypersensitivity and be a normal 23-year-old when the accident occurred, but as the years progressed, being in chronic pain took a toll on my body. I simply felt like I couldn’t possibly handle one more day, or vomit one more time. I wanted my bedridden days to be a pastime, but they were very real and becoming more frequent as I was losing ground at holding onto my health. I researched occipital neuralgia and new treatments daily, and things to try. One day, I happened upon your website.

I can remember reaching out to The Plastic Surgery Center and speaking to (nurse staff member) Barbara for the first time, and feeling a glimmer of hope when she had me send over my medical history for you to review. Days later, I received a phone call from you. I had never had a doctor call me and give of his time and expertise the way you did. From that phone call, I knew you would change my life forever. I laughed, I cried, I was so excited. You understood the emotional journey I had been on with my occipital neuralgia, and you respected me as a person enough to take the time and listen. You were completely honest with me, explaining that the surgery may or may not work. You never tried to give me false hope.

I can remember waking up from the surgery and instantaneously feeling room in the back of my head for the first time since the accident. It was the most incredible feeling ever!!! My pain was definitely different; it was now what I refer to as surgery pain. Slowly but surely, I hope to be able to get off all my medication. The surgery changed my life. You gave me a reason to live.

I was 23 years old when the accident happened, and I gave up so much of my social life, missing parties, trips, etc. Now, I look forward to transitioning back to the person I was, but at my own speed. I know it sounds silly, but I treasure things the normal person takes for granted– like going to see a movie in a movie theater, working an 8-hour-day and being able to go to the store afterward and cook dinner without wanting to put my head through a wall. For me it’s all baby steps for now, and simply enjoying the life you gave back to me.

People complain about pain every day. I hear it all the time, but I can’t say for sure anyone ever understood mine until I met you. Dr. Kaufman, I will forever treasure the gift you gave me of getting a second chance at life. I was at the lowest point in my life before my surgery. I am so grateful you took a chance on me.

Thank you for helping me when no one else could, and believing me when so many people thought I was imagining things. You gave me reason not to give up hope, and if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here today.

Kristen Kuczenski

*Occipital neuralgia is chronic head pain in areas that correspond to the greater occipital nerves, which extend from the spine to the scalp.

View Kristen’s video testimonial here.

I Can Never Thank Dr. Matthew Kaufman Enough for Restoring so Much of Me to Me.

Dreadfully, the right side of my face was paralyzed during a surgical procedure. My facial features were distorted and out of place. I looked hideous. My right eye and mouth did not function properly or comfortably. I felt ruined, hopeless and depressed- especially after I was told my facial damage was permanent. I wanted to hide from others.

Dr. Matthew Kaufman took me on as a patient (a challenge). He performed a complicated and difficult surgery on me. He retrieved some of the lost functions and lost feelings in my right “dead” face. He improved the placement of my skewed facial features.

I can never thank Dr. Matthew Kaufman enough for restoring so much of me to me.

Heidi L. Bowman

Thomas Fols – Phrenic Nerve Surgery Testimonial

All my life I have worked hard and played harder. With playing so hard I have experienced several injuries. The injury I sustained from snowmobiling while in Potter County, Pennsylvania most probably was what injured my phrenic nerve.

In approximately the last two and half years, I have had several doctor visits being treated for upper respiratory problems. While doing my initial complete physical, my primary physician discovered that I had a paralyzed diaphragm. After several tests and being placed on nighttime oxygen, it was decided that I see another doctor at the Temple Lung Center in Philadelphia. After confirming the diagnosis he recommended seeing Dr. Matthew Kaufman for a consultation.

The Plastic Surgery Center (Institute for Advanced Reconstruction) mailed information, patient forms etc. They were completed, along with any tests, x-rays etc. that I had pertaining to my current condition.

My initial visit took place in May 2013. Dr. Kaufman told me at the time that he thought he could help me, but wanted current testing done. Upon completing an MRI, Sniff Test, EMG, and chest x-ray, I was advised that I was a candidate for phrenic nerve surgery.

On June 28, 2013 the surgery was performed at Jersey Shore University Medical Center. Having had several surgeries in the past, this was the first elective procedure for me. When I awoke in recovery, I gathered my thoughts and took my first deep breath. I cried, just as I am now writing this testimonial, as it was a life changing moment. It’s difficult to put into words these feelings; if you have had a “changing” moment you will understand.

Everyone at the hospital and especially Dr. Kaufman’s staff were the utmost professionals. I felt like they were as happy or happier than me of the results so far. I feel the operation will be common in the future.

If I did not elect to have this surgery I would still be suffering medically, and be forced to shut down my Electrical Contracting business.

This surgery improved my quality of life, and has given me a completely new attitude about everything.

God Bless Dr Kaufman and his staff.
Thomas Fols

I Am so Grateful to God and to Dr. Kaufman for a Renewed Life.

In just two hours time, my life changed completely! I went from an active lifestyle of tennis, fast walking and ministering several times a year in Rwanda to a daily struggle to breathe. Trips to Africa and swinging a tennis racquet became distant memories. It all began with a shoulder injury.

In November 2013, I had rotator cuff surgery to repair tears. The anesthesia block in my neck resulted in a trauma to my phrenic nerve which in turn resulted in diaphragmatic paralysis. A long list of doctors had no answers for me and offered little hope for change, until I met Dr. Matthew Kaufman.

Dr. Kaufman, a man with the unusual mix of a brilliant mind and a kind, comforting manner, explained his cutting-edge nerve bypass surgical remedy. He explained the procedure in great detail and exercised exceptional patience with my questions. Dr.Kaufman skillfully performed the surgery on my nerve in November, 2013, with doctors from Europe there to observe. My recovery has been excellent. Dr. Kaufman’s staff, (Heather O’Neill in particular), has been outstanding.

It is now March, 2014, and I am on my way to recovery! I have finished respiratory therapy, and am working with a trainer at the New York Sports Club. It fills me with joy, and to know that I will be able to return one day to the people I love in Rwanda, take fast walks in New York City with my friends and pick up a tennis racquet again. I am so grateful to God and to Dr. Kaufman for a renewed life.”

Marita Dowell

Botox Treatment For Migranes

Phrenic Nerve Surgery Testimonial

Kristen Kuczenski

I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me and my family.

I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me and my family. I am looking forward to the operation, as I have missed out on lots of activities I did prior to this illness and want to return to work as soon as I am able.

Read Patient Story

Don Bird

I have the utmost respect for him.

Before it was hard for me to function. My oxygen level at the time of my surgery was only 37%…Now it’s 98%. All my doctors are amazed and my family is very relieved. It’s remarkable…

Read Patient Story

Julia Cooke

This Guy Saved Me…

Dr. Matthew Kaufman with Dar Thompson & Russell GarrisonDr. Matthew Kaufman of The Institute for Advanced Reconstruction is flanked by Dar Thompson of Peachtree, Georgia (left), and Russell Garrison of Bedford, Indiana. Dr. Kaufman successfully performed surgery to repair the phrenic nerve in both patients. Thompson, age 48, the CEO of World Gym Fitness Centers in Fayetteville and Peachtree, Georgia, struggled for six years with fatigue and poor lung function before finding Dr. Kaufman. “This guy saved me,” says Thompson of Dr. Kaufman. Thompson, who says he looks and feels 20 years younger from the relief he has gained, reports he was at 50% of his work level prior to surgery, and a year after surgery is now able to play competitive ice hockey and perform at 95% of maximum capacity. Russell Garrison, a 42-year-old commander of the Indiana State troopers, is pictured here a mere five days after his surgery. Like Thompson, he continued his training program despite the shortness of breath and inability to maintain his stamina. Says Dr. Kaufman of these two supremely fit patients, “Following phrenic nerve surgery I think fitness helps the rehabilitation of the diaphragm (which is compromised by an injury to the phrenic nerve that causes paralysis). After all, at least one study showed that the diaphragm muscle begins to deteriorate even 12 hours of inactivity.”

We are now post 18 months from the surgery and I feel we have hit a magical point in the process of total recovery.
Dar Thompson
About a month ago I began to have muscle spasms in my lower thorax and upper abdominal region. The spasm is located just under the medial side of my last (lowest) right rib. At first I thought it was my heart but soon realized where the spasm was located. This event was fairly consistent over a 15 day period, sometimes 5 or 6 occurrences per day. The diaphragm continues to go into spasm on occasion

Has you and I discussed on several occasions, regarding potential nerve growth (1 cm per month), it appears that there is a major increase in conduction in the diaphragm over the past 10 days. My breaths are much easier and much deeper than they were only one month ago. It’s like the dimmer has slowly been getting brighter and brighter over the last year-and-a-half but now it’s been turned all the way up. I thought I felt good after the surgery and all the months thereafter but this latest improvement is off the charts compared to the overall process.

In conclusion, these latest events have made my breathing much easier and effortless while at rest. My intuition tells me that my phrenic nerve has recovered about 95% since the procedure in December of 2009. I feel that the majority, if not all, of the nerve tissue has regenerated and all that remains is strength of conduction and recondition of the diaphragm muscle itself.

I hope this information may be helpful in current and/or future patients.

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