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Patient Stories

Every year our physicians and staff care for patients with complex diseases of the central nervous system. We're proud to share some of their stories with you.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Brain Tumor
Movement Disorders
Vascular Malformations

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Carol Lasaro

Implant Helps ALS Patients Breathe
Like many patients with ALS, breathing was difficult for patient Carol Lasaro. A multidisciplinary team of physicians at the University of Chicago Medicine identified the 66-year-old as a good candidate for the NeuRx Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS). The devise stimulates the diaphragm to contract through implanted electrodes operated by a small external generator. DPS has improved Lasaro's quality of life. "It's helping me," she said. "I'm breathing a lot better. And I'm sleeping better."

Tom Milanti

ALS Patient Advocates for the Lives of Future Patients
Tom Milianti was diagnosed with ALS in 2004. Milianti and his family advocate for ALS research in Illinois and Washington, D.C., in hopes of finding a cure for the neurodegenerative disease.

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Carol Kruse

Managing Complexity: Multiple Cerebral Aneurysms Treated in a Single Operation
Carol Kruse was back to her regular daily activities only days after having surgery on five aneurysms. “Dr. Awad and his team really made us feel confident that the surgery was going to go well,” her daughter, Katherine Nigro, said.

Eileen Wilhelm

To the Edge and Back: Defying a Deadly Condition
At 43, Eileen Wilhelm developed two cerebral aneurysms, and one of them ruptured, nearly killing her. Fast action and the expertise of the University of Chicago Medicine surgical team saved her life.

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Dan Kricke and Gayle Shier

Planning His Future: Surgery Provides Long-Term Relief for Congenital Hydrocephalus
Born with obstructive hydrocephalus, Dan Kricke had a shunt placed shortly after birth. Many years and revision surgeries later, he began to notice worrisome symptoms indicating trouble with the shunt's performance for the first time since childhood. Neurosurgeons at the children's hospital where he was initially treated do not provide care for adults, so Kricke wasn’t sure where to turn. Eventually, he found the University of Chicago Medicine. Now, he's headache-free and ready for marriage.

Kimi Sorensen

Hydrocephalus Patient Faces Complex Care with Courage and Gratitude
Kimi Sorensen has been treated by pediatric neurosurgeon David Frim, MD, PhD, since she was a young girl. Although her care was often complex, she appreciated how Frim patiently explained what he was going to do. "He kept me involved and helped me understand my condition and my treatment," Sorensen added.

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Movement Disorders

Jean Martinez

Making Beautiful Music: Drug Regimen Relieves Debilitating Parkinson's Symptoms
Jean Martinez's tremor started small, but gradually worsened and spread. The shaking became painful and exhausting, accompanied by other symptoms that significantly disrupted her physical and emotional wellbeing. Martinez sought the expertise of Parkinson's disease specialist Tao Xie, MD, PhD. Today, she is once again tremor-free, active, and happily playing her guitar alongside her duet partner in music and life: her husband, Danny.

Cheng Xiu Xu

Bouncing Back: Deep Brain Stimulation Helps Woman Regain Control of Parkinson's Disease Symptoms
Cheng Xiu Xu's Parkinson's disease symptoms worsened steadily despite frequent medication changes. Eventually, she lost her ability to perform familiar activities, including playing her favorite sport: ping-pong. At her doctor's recommendation, Xu came to the University of Chicago Medicine. With our experts' extensive knowledge of deep brain stimulation (DBS), she's back to playing ping-pong on a daily basis.

Patrick O'Brien

Living Without Tremors
Patrick O'Brien has essential tremor. His hands shook so much he could barely tie his own shoes. After hearing neurosurgeon Peter Warnke, MD, and neurologist Tao Xie, MD, PhD, speak at an event, O'Brien came to the University of Chicago Medicine for deep brain stimulation (DBS). With his tremors effectively controlled, he now enjoys a greater quality of life.

Betty Bertram

New Target Provides Better Tremor Control
Betty Bertram had the same surgery twice in one decade. While both were successful, the outcomes are proof of how far medicine can progress in a short time. In January, the 65-year-old Manteno resident underwent a unilateral deep brain stimulation (DBS) -- an electrode implanted in the brain -- at the University of Chicago to control the essential tremor afflicting the left side of her body. Eight years prior, she'd had a DBS procedure to control the tremor on the right side of her body.

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Aubrey Ness

Stroke Survivor Completes Marathon
In June 2016, 30-year-old Indiana resident Aubrey Ness had a stroke. Ness was flown to UChicago Medicine where she spent 10 days in the neurosciences intensive care unit (NeuroICU). Before the stroke, Ness had been training to run a marathon. With the clearance of her physicians and the support of family and friends, Ness learned to walk -- and run -- again, crossing the marathon's finish line just four months later.

Jim Cox

Back on the Race Track: Neuro Team Helps Stock Car Enthusiast Get Behind the Wheel Again After a Stroke
Retired helicopter test pilot Jim Cox hoped to spend more time on his lifelong hobby: building and driving late model stock cars. But then a stroke three years ago resulted in a nearly blocked brain artery, blurring Cox’s vision and putting him at high risk for another stroke. A neurointerventional procedure opened the narrowed artery and Cox is back to driving his race cars again.

Jim and Bettina Faulkner

Defying the Odds: Stroke Patient Credits Doctor for Giving Him a Second Chance at Life
In 2006, Jim Faulkner suffered a massive stroke, which caused a large volume of blood to leak into his brain. Years later, he has progressed far more than originally expected, and he has reason to be excited about his future.

Joseph Pagone

Experimental Procedure Saves a Man's Life
Joseph Pagone, 53, collapsed in his shower with a loud thud. The impact startled his wife, Jan, who ran to the bathroom to find him struggling to get up. His dominant right side was useless.

Pamela Hsieh

A Race Against Time: Surviving Stroke at Age 19 (VIDEO)
Pamela Hsieh was just 19 when a stroke paralyzed her left side. After treatment at the University of Chicago medical campus, Hsieh has regained enough movement to hike mountains in the West.

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Vascular Malformations

Cerebral Cavernous Malformation (CCM)

Sherry Kedra

After a Brain Bleed: Surgery Successfully Treats CCM
After a cerebral cavernous malformation (CCM) leaked into her brain, 37-year-old Sherry Kedra, of Akron, Ohio, came to Chicago to meet with neurovascular surgeon, Issam Awad, MD. Just over a year later, when she suffered a second more serious brain bleed, Kedra rushed back to the University of Chicago Medicine for surgery.

Steven Steinhilber

Brain Surgery Eliminates Cause of Seizures
Steven Steinhilber, 23, opened a can of soda and as the first notes of carbonation fizzed into the air, he turned to his wife, Genay, and said, "I don't feel well," right before passing out.

Dural Arteriovenous Malformation/Fistula (DAVM/DAVF)

Bill and Judy Davis

Back in the Swing: Successful Treatment for a Rare Neurovascular Formation
Grateful for the successful treatment of a dural arteriovenous malformation/fistula (DAVM/DAVF) in his brain, Bill Davis and his wife Judy decided to give back with a generous donation toward neurovascular surgery research at the University of Chicago Medicine.

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