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Hope and Healing

Margaret Little, a 55-year-old native from the Sandtown neighborhood of Baltimore, is a very spiritual and lively woman. She finds her strength in God and does all she can to make others happy. Whether through volunteering at her nephew’s school or just greeting people she walks by, Little always finds a way to brighten someone’s day.

What many would not know about this vibrant woman is that she has been dealing with open wounds on her legs for almost 13 years. After receiving treatment at other hospitals with no success, Little became frustrated and started to care for her wounds on her own. “No matter what they tried, the skin never came back,” she says.

“Right around that time, they told me they couldn’t take my insurance anymore.” One day, as she was crossing the street on the corner of Linden and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, she looked up and saw a billboard promoting the Maryland Wound Healing Center at University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus. “I was praying for God to send me someone to help me. And then I looked up and saw the billboard. I was taken back and called right away.”

At the Center

Little became a patient of Miles G. Harrison Jr., MD, FACS, head of the Division of General Surgery at UMMC Midtown Campus. “Upon meeting Margaret, I realized that her fragmented care contributed to her nonhealing wounds,” Dr. Harrison says.

“We accept all patients with open wounds for evaluations and we have many uninsured and underinsured patients whom we welcome. Repeated emergency room visits don’t heal the wound, but an organized and planned approach markedly improves the healing process.”

Getting the Right Diagnosis

After seeing Little’s widespread wounds on both legs, Dr. Harrison quickly surmised they were caused by venous stasis, a condition, usually of the lower extremities, having inadequate venous blood flow, which causes the skin to break down, leading to open sores. He further explained that a circulation test needed to be completed before recommending safe treatment.

The first line of treatment was to get her venous stasis under control with compression stockings. These special elastic stockings apply pressure at the ankle and lower leg and improve venous blood flow and reduce leg swelling. Then, the wound could be treated.

Dr. Harrison treated the wounds by a process of debridement, a thorough cleaning of all injured and dead tissue. “Dr. Harrison did what no one had ever done before. He cleaned the wound and took out all the injured tissue that wasn’t
allowing the wound to heal and the skin to grow,” Little says.

Just 13 weeks after Little’s first visit to UMMC Midtown Campus, one of two wounds on her left leg had completely healed, and her right leg and the second wound on her left leg were well on their way to healing. “Due to the complexity of Margaret’s wounds and the length of time they have been open, we still have a way to go,” Dr. Harrison says. “But her progress has been remarkable and I believe she will be completely healed with more treatment.”

“When I saw that skin had finally covered my legs, I started dancing,” Little says. “It was a celebration of life. I have had my legs covered for so long. I have wanted to wear skirts for so long and now it was finally possible.”