For 20 years, Paula Welch-Forrest led a reclusive lifestyle complete with clinical depression, low energy, a lack of self-esteem and virtually no zest for life. In 2012, Dr. Howard Kaufman, colorectal surgeon and HMRI researcher, changed all of that. Suffering from numerous colorectal problems and unable to get a proper diagnosis or successful treatment, Forrest was eventually referred to Kaufman.
“By the time I met Dr. Kaufman, I had already been told I had the colon of an 80-year-old,” said 49-year-old Forrest. “Dr. Kaufman was so kind and asked me questions that no other physician had bothered to ask. He also listened carefully to what I had to say in order to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together.” Forrest sensed right away that she finally had met the right physician whose extensive research and experience made him one of the top experts in his field.
With a diagnosis of colonic inertia, a condition that occurs when muscles or nerves in the colon fail to function effectively, Kaufman performed a laparoscopic total abdominal colectomy. Sometimes known as an ileorectal anastomosis, the surgery involves removal of the large intestine from the ileum (lowest part of the small intestine) to the rectum. The end of the small intestine is then attached to the rectum.
“Ms. Forrest was a wonderful and cooperative patient who was anxious to resolve her long-standing medical issues. I’m pleased that she recovered so well from the procedure and is moving forward with her life,” stated Kaufman.
Since her surgical procedure, Forrest’s lifestyle has changed considerably. She has become an active, social person who no longer hides out from the world. Her family and friends barely recognize the new persona but are delighted. “My husband calls me his ‘social butterfly’ now and tries to keep up with my schedule,” commented Forrest. “I was too embarrassed to speak out about my medical problems before, but now I want to ‘shout it from the rooftops’ so others like me have hope.”
In addition to a private practice and serving as medical director for Huntington Hospital’s Cancer Center, Kaufman is director of the Colorectal Research program at HMRI where he passionately pursues new technologies in his field. He was one of the early pioneers of minimally invasive surgery for Crohn’s disease and was the first surgeon on the west coast to perform colon resections laparoscopically through a tiny single incision.
“I cannot sing the praises of Dr. Kaufman enough,” said Forrest. “Every time I receive a compliment regarding my renewed health, I tell them that Dr. Kaufman literally saved my life. I’m asking everyone to show their appreciation by sending a donation to HMRI for the Colorectal Research Fund. I’m proud to be able to honor Dr. Kaufman in this way so others can experience the same successful outcome.”