Oxygen therapy saves man's foot from amputation

Donald Barnas is undergoing hyperbaric pressure treatments to save his toes from amputation.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KATV) -- They’re used for scuba diver injuries, but also for infections. A Little Rock man is benefiting from hyperbaric chambers, or, oxygen therapy, to save his foot from amputation.

Back in October, Donald and Eva Barnas noticed a small infection on one of Donald’s toes. But in just a few days, all of his toes turned black. That’s when Donald’s podiatrist rushed him to the hospital.

“He took one look at it and said, ‘You’re going to the hospital.’” Donald said.

“It was a critical limb ischemia, meaning that he didn’t have enough blood going to his tissues. They became ischemic and necrotic, so they were dying,” said Janine Rutherford, the director of Wound Care Centers at the Arkansas Heart Hospital.

The couple panicked when they learned Donald’s toe tissue had died due to bad blood flow in his foot.

Eva says when she initially saw that all her husband’s toes were black, she thought he was going to lose even more than his foot.

That’s when Donald was introduced to oxygen therapy—patients enter a hyperbaric pressure chamber that fills with pure oxygen, promoting faster healing of wounds.

“Originally they were talking about amputation,” Donald said.

Had the lack of blood circulation in his body gone upward, the outcome would’ve been much worse.

“It was like a stroke in reverse, the way they [doctors] explained it. Instead of going up, it went down, so we’re very lucky, very fortunate,” Eva explained.

Donald may still lose one toe, but he’s choosing to see the glass half full: his situation could always be worse.

“You see people in here with part of their foot off, and cut up to the knee. I’ve gotta be thankful that this is clearing up, that’s all,” Donald remarked.

He still has about 17 treatments left on his road to recovery.

Oxygen therapy is also used for carbon monoxide poisoning, diabetic ulcers, and radiation damage.

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