Brighton, N.Y. — In March 2010 Mark Landers nearly died. He nearly died a few more times in the many weeks and months he spent in the hospital after suffering an aortic dissection. Less than half of all patients survive an aortic dissection where blood flows into and along the wall of the aorta. The survival rate of patients with a dissection as severe as Landers’ is in the single-digits.
During many life-saving surgeries doctors had to amputate Landers’ right leg above the hip leaving this once active father confined to a wheel chair. Landers worked a factory job before all this and along with his wife Michelle they own and operate two local car washes. The family’s mission became getting Mark walking and working again.
Yet for months they fought numerous denials from their insurance company for a specific “C-Leg” prosthetic that was specifically designed to prevent Landers from falling down again. Landers’ medical team at Strong Memorial Hospital all fought hard for his approval because they knew that a fall could cause Landers to re-dissect and possibly die.
Following a 13WHAM News report, and with the support of many state and federal lawmakers, Landers won that fight with his insurance company and was granted the “C-Leg” prosthetic after a ruling from an external board of state regulators.
After fighting for his life, and for his prosthetic, Landers now begins the process of learning to walk again. With a walker for support and his physical therapist nearby, he begins to take his first steps beyond the parallel bars that he’s used to practice with.
“As each week progresses I’m doing more and more and I’m getting more comfortable,” Landers said.
“This is the first time he has walked outside of the parallel bars with a walker,” Physical Therapist Kevin Bushnell said of Landers’ progress.
“Each time I’ve seen him he’s walking better and better in the parallel bars and it’s great to see him outside of the parallel bars for the first time,” Rob Brown, Landers’ prosthetist said.
While Landers improves he’s encountering more challenges; the mental ones appear twice as difficult as the physical ones.
“Everything is difficult but as time goes on it becomes easier and you have to have a good attitude and that’ll help you get through the mental side,” Landers explained.
Landers knows he’s had a lot of help to bring him to this point and he’s the last person to forget it. While he works to put one foot in front of the other, Mark Landers is also planning his big return.
“You’re going to find me walking into Strong Hospital,” Landers said. “I am, I’m going to walk in there. I’m not sure when but it’s going to be soon enough and we’ll show them and they’ll say to themselves this is why I do my job as a nurse, a doctor, anybody there that helps people get better they’ll see that it does help and it does mean something to people.”
Because of this experience Mark and Michelle Landers are planning to host a blood drive and promote other events in September which is Aortic Dissection Awareness Month. For more information about aorticdissection.com
I have spoke to Mark personally and his wife, they are two very important people and they are actually helping me with my T-Shirt project and I am really grateful for their support and guidance.