In this Your Healthy Family, we’re talking more about plastic surgeon Dr. Fred Deleyiannis, who recently moved to Colorado Springs from Denver in large part due to the Level I Trauma Center designation earned by UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central.
As a plastic surgeon with expertise in trauma reconstruction, Dr. Deleyiannis is in the position to have a dramatic effect on the lives of patients who have suffered unimaginable injuries.
Dr. Deleyiannis says, “I think it’s really profound — you’re presented with people that are missing basically vital function, from some soft tissue that has been removed whether it’s from a cancer or a trauma. My job is really is to restore people to function and back to what they were hopefully before the (accident or) diagnosis.”
Through what’s called microvascular surgery, where blood vessels are literally sewn together under a microscope, drastic wounds can often be repaired by using the patient’s existing tissue from elsewhere in the body.
The range of traumatic injuries that Dr. Deleyiannis has treated is vast. “Patients with gunshot wounds that have devastating blast injuries, and parts of their jaw are missing or parts their face are missing. It can extend to attacks by animals like grizzly bears. I had a patient who was attacked many years ago by a grizzly bear, and had most of his face removed.”
That patient is Nic Patrick from Cody, Wyoming, who was attacked by a Grizzly Bear five years ago. His story of surviving the initial bear attack, and his attitude toward grizzlies and life are amazing on their own. Nic was featured in a story by National Geographic and you can SEE more of that story here.
After the attack, he was eventually taken by helicopter to Denver, where it took Dr. Deleyiannis two major surgeries and seven follow-up surgeries to piece Nic’s face back together using titanium plates and skin from Nic’s back.
Nic recalls: "He took a scapula flap and put it on my face. He took a blood vessel out of my arm and used it to feed through my neck, and micro-sewed the blood vessels back together so that flap had immediate and forever blood supply. The surgery took 14 hours. I don’t think I have done anything for 14 hours. It’s one of the most impressive things I have heard of a surgeon doing."
Having been under his care after an unimaginable injury, Nic says southern Colorado is lucky to have someone like Dr. Deleyiannis working here. Nic would have preferred to never have come across the grizzly bear ON HIS RANCH that fateful morning, but thanks to Dr. Deleyiannis his quality of life is good after the horrific attack.
Nic says, "Five years down the road, for all intents and purposes, I have a normal lifestyle thanks to Dr. Deleyiannis and my wife. I wouldn’t recommend it, losing half your face. It’s not an upgrade, but with the work that was done and how I feel day-to-day now, it’s minor than if this had happened to me 100 years ago, or 50 years ago or if I didn’t have access to Dr. Deleyiannis."
In a future Your Healthy Family story, we’ll have more on some of the amazing work Dr. Deleyiannis does in Colorado, the United States and around the world helping children in need working with the John Lester Foundation.