Health Beat

Health Beat: Isolated limb infusion saves mom, baby

Health Beat: Isolated limb infusion...

BALTIMORE - Krissy Loch calls 3-year-old Daisy her little miracle.

"We weren't trying to get pregnant. We weren't trying not to get pregnant. She just kind of showed up. We were married seven years, so she was a big surprise, but she saved me," Loch said.

For 20 years, Loch had a mass on her left forearm. She shrugged it off as a muscular problem.

"When I got pregnant, it started to grow more rapidly. I guess the hormones in my body, and it hurt," Loch continued.

Loch was diagnosed with advanced sarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissue. Her first doctor recommended she terminate the pregnancy and amputate the arm.

Determined to save both, Loch went to oncology specialist Dr. Vadim Gushchin, who suggested a technique called isolated limb infusion; doctors thread a catheter through the groin or armpit to the cancer and put a tourniquet just above the catheter tip.

"It basically isolates the extremity from the rest of the circulation, so the very toxic drugs do not get into the system," said Gushchin, a surgical oncologist at Mercy Medical Center.

The drugs are pumped into the region for 30 minutes, just once. Then, the tourniquet must come off to prevent damage to healthy tissue.

"We did the procedure. The tumor shrunk. It shrunk enough to be excised completely with negative margins," Gushchin explained.

Five months after ILI, Loch delivered Daisy, full-term and in perfect health.

"She's just everything. She's my best friend," Loch said.

Loch gets scans every six months to monitor the cancer and remains cancer-free.

A recent study by the Journal of the American College of Surgeons found a nearly 80 percent rate of limb preservation with the chemotherapy technique.

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