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Arturo & Nina Porzecanski

porzecanskiLeading wound care experts come to Geisinger

In November 2005, Arturo Porzecanski, PhD, a well-known economist and distinguished American University professor, was admitted to Geisinger’s Intensive Care Unit. He was stricken by an exceedingly rare disease called Systemic Capillary Leak Syndrome during a Thanksgiving visit with his brother-in-law’s family in State College, PA.

The syndrome triggers the sudden leakage of plasma from blood vessels into adjacent body cavities and muscle compartments. By the time Arturo was airlifted to Geisinger Medical Center, his body was in severe shock, his kidneys were failing, and his arm and leg muscles and nerves were sustaining considerable damage. If he survived, his family was told, the amputation of his legs was likely.

After Geisinger ICU doctors saved his life and Arturo stabilized, orthopaedic surgeon John M. Parenti, MD, discussed with Arturo and his wife, Nina, a different course of action that might spare his legs. Rather than amputate them, Dr. Parenti would attempt to remove all damaged muscle tissue in a series of delicate operations which entailed risks to the limbs and to Arturo’s life. Arturo and Nina placed their trust in Dr. Parenti and decided that the risks were worth taking. After a dozen operations over several weeks, Arturo was on his way to recovery. After a long period of healing, physical rehabilitation and with the help of leg braces and a cane, he was able to walk again, resume his teaching duties and regain a normal life.

To honor Dr. Parenti’s courage and expertise in saving Arturo’s legs, the Porzecanskis established the John M. Parenti, MD, Annual Visiting Orthopaedic Surgery Lectureship at Geisinger, for the purpose of bringing to Danville leading-edge experts in wound care from around the country. 

Dr. Parenti left his comfort zone and had faith in my survival,” says Dr. Porzecanski. “With this endowment, Nina and I want to ensure that Geisinger physicians are exposed to all advancements in wound care, so that patients with burns, diabetes, and other limb-threatening diseases will receive the best available care before having to undergo any amputation of their limbs.”

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