Losing a leg because of diseases such as diabetes can be a traumatic experience. Not only does it impact your ability to get around, but it can also cut your life short.
More than half of the people who lose a limb to vascular disease will die in the first year.
Sixty-five-year-old Mavis Kiggins isn't the fastest woman in the world, but this type 2 diabetic is just happy to be walking.
“I had pain so bad up here on my leg that I could hardly stand," Kiggins said.
Her leg pain and feet sores got so bad it limited the activities she could do with her nine grandchildren and five kids.
"I couldn't go to the Mall of America with my son because I couldn't walk that far," Kiggins said.
After eight years living with severe leg pain, Kiggins sought help at Sanford's Limb Preservation Center. Doctor Patrick Kelly performed balloon angioplasty on both of her legs to widen blocked arteries. He also placed a few stents in her legs, but the benefits of these procedures reach far beyond Kiggins ability to walk.
"We know that statistically if we can keep people walking. We keep people at home. We keep people out of nursing homes. We keep people from having open sores, pneumonia, everything," Kelly said
The new center offers a new approach to saving limbs.
"We're combining the efforts of a wound healing center, podiatry, vascular surgery, endocrinology and plastic surgery when needed," Kelly said.
And the new approach is already reaping big results.
"Another woman came in on a Sunday with critical gangrene. She was scheduled for an amputation on a Tuesday. We can stop that process," Kelly said.
Not only are doctors focusing more on preventing amputations, but they're also looking to increase awareness among patients.
“Raising the awareness of looking for this, if a person has a sore on their foot that doesn't heal in two weeks, we need to assess the blood flow," Kelly said.
And that’s an increased awareness that's already got Kiggins on the move.
"If my son asks me to go to the Mall of America again, I'm going to go," Kiggins said.
If you suffer from severe pain in your legs while walking or pain in your feet while lying down, you should see a doctor immediately.