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News of the Weird
 

Surgery That Can't Possibly Be True


November 4th, 2010

Janis Ollson, 31, of Balmoral, Manitoba, is recovering nicely after being almost completely sawed in half in 2007 by Mayo Clinic surgeons.

Janis Ollson, 31, of Balmoral, Manitoba, is recovering nicely after being almost completely sawed in half in 2007 by Mayo Clinic surgeons, who concluded that they could remove her bone cancer no other way. In experimental surgery that had been tried only on cadavers, doctors split her pelvis in half, removed the left half, her left leg and her lower spine (and the tumor) in a 20-hour, 12-specialist procedure. The real trick, though, was the eight-hour, 240-staple reconstruction in which her remaining leg was reconnected to her spine with pins and screws, leaving her in an arrangement doctors likened to a "pogo stick." A September Winnipeg Free Press story noted that, except for the missing leg, she is enjoying a normal life with her husband and two kids and enjoys snowmobiling.

Kyle Johnson shattered his skull so badly in a high-speed longboard accident in June that ordinary "decompressive craniectomy" (temporarily removing half of the skull to relieve pressure) would be inadequate. Instead, doctors at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah, removed both halves, leaving only a thin strip of bone (after placing Johnson in a drug-induced coma) and kept the skull frozen to prevent brittleness. After the swelling subsided, they reattached the skull to his head and woke him up gradually over a week's time. Johnson admits some memory problems and cognitive dysfunction, most notably his inability to focus on more than one concept at a time " even when they are part of the same scene, such as two crayons on a table. Johnson said he probably won't go back to the longboard but, curiously like Janis Ollson, looks forward to snowmobiling.
 
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