Earlier this year Eyewitness News brought viewers a story about a man from Nashville, who was told by many doctors both of his legs needed to be amputated.
He suffered from a common type of cardiovascular blockage, but then he found a doctor in Houma who saved his legs. After viewers saw that story, it changed the lives for many others.
Retired Louisiana history professor, Dr. Paul Leslie, will soon get rid of his walker and play golf again. But not long ago, he thought he'd never walk on his own two legs again.
"Number one thing is we can amputate," Dr. Leslie recalls doctors telling him. "You talk about being hit with a nuclear bomb. I mean my whole family went nuts. I still can't, it really was upsetting," Dr. Leslie said as he choked up with tears.
An old college football knee injury at Mizzou, forced him to finally need a knee replacement last year. But it became infected, and after a dozen surgeries, would never heal. While he was mostly bed ridden, the home care nurse helped him get in touch with Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Craig Walker of Houma. He discovered that Dr. Leslie had PAD, peripheral artery disease.
"If you lose a limb, you're more likely to lose your life," explained Dr. Walker who runs the Cardiovascular Institute of the South.
PAD is when the vessels in your legs are clogged. Dr. Leslie's knee could not heal because there was no circulation. For 19 years at his annual New Cardiovascular Horizons Conference in New Orleans, Dr. Walker has been teaching thousands of doctors from around the world, the many different treatments that can get the blood circulating again so they don't resort to amputation. Last year Fred Goad of Nashville told Eyewitness News his story of Dr. Walker saving both his legs. After the story ran, his office got more than 1,000 calls.
"Within a week and a half, there were over 100 patients who were told their only option was amputation, who came, that were evaluated, and treated. And of those exactly zero, exactly zero ended up with an amputation," said Dr. Walker.
Along with no hair growing on your legs, or cramping when you walk, Dr. Walker says a simple exam can catch PAD early.
"I can put my finger on a foot pulse. And so by simple physical exam, I can identify a high-risk patient and that results in starting that patient on treatment and often saving their lives," said Dr. Walker.
That one treatment got Dr. Leslie's blood flowing again, healing his knee and saving his leg.
"But now with after what Dr. Walker did, the wound cleaned up. It filled in. You wouldn't know there was anything there right now. It's incredible. It's miraculous, divine intervention," said Dr. Leslie.
Blockages in the leg vessels are more common than blockages that cause heart attacks.
Lately more women are getting PAD, which is more deadly than breast and cervical cancers combined.
For more on the Cardiovascular Institute of the South in Houma, click here.