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Young leukemia patient finds healing at University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine Center

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy cures Eastlake student’s transplant-induced internal bleeding

Bedford, Ohio – Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a noninvasive treatment that enables the body’s natural wound-healing abilities to function more efficiently. The Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine Center at University Hospitals (UH) Bedford Medical Center was the first facility to offer HBOT within the University Hospitals system, and is the only UH location in Cleveland’s east side region to provide it. For 12-year-old Kaitlin Hayward of Eastlake, this specialized therapy was a life-saving last resort.

Kaitlin was five when she was diagnosed with leukemia. The disease went into remission until her family learned it had returned in the summer of 2012. A bone marrow transplant was successful, but a side effect from the procedure was hemorrhagic cystitis – a bladder inflammation with uncontrolled bleeding. Kaitlin required multiple blood transfusions every week. “It was a bad time,” says Kelly Hayward, Kaitlin’s mother. “It went on for so long, we weren’t sure if anything was going to work.”

In March 2013, Rolla Abu-Arja, MD, pediatric oncologist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, referred Kaitlin to the Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine Center at UH Bedford Medical Center. Kaitlin didn’t have a traditional external wound but Dr. Abu-Arja recognized that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy might help stem her internal bleeding. “Kaitlin’s first hyperbaric treatment occurred on March 22 at UH Bedford Medical Center,” says Dr. Abu-Arja. “There were 40 HBOT treatments in all.”

“We were able to respond quickly and coordinate the clinical modalities needed to address every aspect of Kaitlin’s case,” says David J. Rowe, MD, FACS, Medical Director, Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine Center, UH Bedford Medical Center. “We also made our wound care environment as relaxed as possible for her.”

Inside the pressurized hyperbaric chamber, Kaitlin breathed pure oxygen for up to two hours a day, five days a week for eight weeks. The high concentration of oxygen in her bloodstream helped to create new blood vessels and improved her circulation. “After two weeks of HBOT, Kaitlin’s symptoms completely resolved,” says Dr. Abu-Arja, “and after her first 22 treatments she did not require further transfusions.”

In October, Kaitlin turned 13 and celebrated one year since her bone marrow transplant. Today, her internal wound is healed and her cancer is gone. “She is in remission from the cystitis and the leukemia, and she has no complications,” says Dr. Abu-Arja. “Kaitlin was the first patient UH Rainbow referred to UH Bedford Medical Center for hyperbaric treatment, and she received incredible care there.”

Since her HBOT ended, Kaitlin has returned to a normal life – swimming, riding roller coasters at Cedar Point, spending time with friends and starting middle school. “Last year Kaitlin was in the hospital for her birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas,” says Kelly Hayward. “This year, it’s like seeing everything through fresh eyes. The care and compassion she received from University Hospitals makes life all the more meaningful for our whole family.”

The Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine Center offers a comprehensive array of treatments for external and internal wounds. In the past year, the facility has delivered a 91 percent wound-healing rate and a patient satisfaction rate of 92 percent. “We can usually see a wound care patient within 24 hours,” says Dr. Rowe. “Candidates for Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can typically count on receiving their first treatment within 48 hours of consultation.”

If a wound has not begun to heal within two weeks or is not completely healed within six weeks, schedule an appointment at the Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine Center at UH Bedford Medical Center by calling 440-735-4755.

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