WYOMING, Mich. (WZZM) -- Heart disease doesn't just affect your heart. It affects your entire cardiovascular system. As it advances, cholesterol collects and hardens in other areas of your body including your legs. Until recently, once an artery became completely blocked, amputation was the only treatment.
Metro Health interventional cardiologist Dr. Jihad Mustapha developed a technique called the TAMI (Tibial Pedal Arterial Minimally Invasive Retrograde Revascularization) that is saving hundreds of patients from losing their legs. Dr. Mustapha drills through the artery removing the hardened cholesterol returning blood flow to the limb.
Mustapha wanted to share this new intervention with other cardiologists, but there was one big challenge: "How can we figure out a method of training physicians on how to access small vessels in the legs?" He came up with the idea of a mobile cadaver lab.
"Since we started the cadaver lab we have trained hundreds of physicians."
Inside the refrigerated lab are cadaver legs used to train physicians how to open up clogged arteries and return blood flow. "The presence of cadavers absolutely accelerates the evolution of medicine. These are donated to science and they are treated with utmost respect," says Mustapha.
Cadaver legs are donated within 24 hours of death and cardiologists have a very limited time to learn the technique of opening clogged arteries. After 48 hours the leg is shipped back and used in other medical testing labs. "Thankfully, we stumbled on this concept and idea and are able to change of outcomes of patients here in Grand Rapids and the rest of the world."
Because of those willing to dedicate their bodies to medical research, Dr. Mustapha has conducted over 100 mobile cadaver labs across the country.