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New program credited with saving diabetic woman’s leg

NORMAN, Okla. – Diabetes is a disease many Oklahomans deal with every single day.

Recently, an Oklahoma woman was told she would lose her right leg because of the condition.

With just a 5 percent chance of saving the limb, she decided to fight back against the disease with the help of a new program at Norman Regional Health System.

Cathy Forister said, “Makes you grateful for having feet.”

Forister was told she would lose her right foot and much of her leg due to an infection.

Dr. TaySha Howell, with Norman Regional, said, “She was so sick over all.”

Forister said, “It [my foot] was just like an elephant foot or something. It was huge.”

Doctors told Forister she had diabetes, which is a diagnosis that took her by surprise.

It also meant her life was about to change.

Dr. Howell said, “Pretty much the entire joint was filled with infection.”

Forister said, “He said, ‘Well, you’ve only got a 5-percent chance of saving it.’ One of my sisters spoke up and said, ‘We’ll take it.'”

She began fighting with help from a team of doctors, her son and other family members by her side every day.

Dr. Howell said, “We’ve become very passionate about these diabetic patients and their poor outcomes.”

It has taken three months of antibiotics, surgery, hyperbaric oxygen treatments and specialized wound care to get to this day.

On Thursday, Forister’s cast came off.

Her treatment is part of a new program at Norman Regional Health System called the Diabetic Limb Salvage program.

Dr. Howell said, “We have this group that surrounds the patient to help them be successful with their wound and their treatment. There’s nothing else like that in the state.”

Forister said, “It really takes a lot of work but it’s worth it when it gets well.”

As Dr. Howell examined Forister Thursday, she became excited.

She said, “She’s just been a success treatment the whole way through.”

The wound is now 100 percent healed and she is able to walk on her own.

She will continue to take antibiotics for a few more weeks to help the tissue heal.

For more information on the program, you can call Norman Regional Health System at (405) 515-0025.