Stahoviak hopes to avoid amputation

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Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak plans to try another knee replacement before considering an amputation of part of her right leg leg.

"I want to try one more time, if I'm infection free, to put in a replacement," Stahoviak said Monday.

Stahoviak, who has battled infections in her knee replacements since December 2003, was rushed to the hospital in November with a knee infection in her right knee. Amputation was posed as an eventual option as it could let Stahoviak avoid the risk of infection from another implant.

Since then, Stahoviak has been taking antibiotics and recovering from surgery at the Doak Walker Care Center while considering her options.

Her doctor stopped her antibiotics Monday and in two weeks will check her knee to see whether the infection is gone.

She has been learning as much about the amputation process as she can and said she is worried that she might not be strong enough for it now.

"If I can save my leg, that's what I want to do," she said.

It has been almost one full year since Stahoviak was flown to Denver because of life-threatening kidney failure and infections. Last spring, she had temporary replacements implanted in both knees.

In June, she had a permanent knee replacement implanted in her right knee, and in October, she had the same permanent replacement put in her left knee. The installation of a permanent replacement in her left knee was delayed after doctors discovered an infection in that knee.

Stahoviak was rushed to the hospital in November when an infection in her right knee was discovered.

Doctors found the infection was deep within the joint and removed much of her leg bone.

If doctors find in two weeks that Stahoviak's infection is gone, they will try to schedule surgery to implant a replacement in her knee. At the start of that surgery, tissue samples will be sent to the lab to make sure the infection is gone, and then a permanent knee replacement will be implanted.

If the infection is not gone, doctors could put a temporary spacer in Stahoviak's knee and put her back on antibiotics to fight the infection.

"I'm just very excited that we're able to try this alternative and not ... go the route of amputation at this point," Stahoviak said.

Stahoviak said she hopes she will have made progress by the end of January.

All of the prayers, as well as medical and natural remedies that she has been taking, are helping, she said.

"I think it's all working together to heal me," she said, "and that's what needs to happen."

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