Top
$1,063 of $33,000
3%
14 donations

This fundraiser ended on 07/15/11

Create a fundraiser like this

All funds will be used for the medical expenses for surgery on a combat related injury that the VA will not pay for because it is in Germany

This could possibly benefit all veterans and service members in the United States of America and completely change my life by implementing new laws and policies that will provide the best medical care in the world not just in the US! There is a first for everything and I hope that is what happens after I complete my mission!

As a Veteran who is medically retired due to combat related injuries, I believe that I should have the final word in any type of treatment I receive and where I want to have it by the doctor of my choice.

As Americans we are a little ignorant, we tend to think that we are the best at everything but we are not. That is just the cold hard truth and in Germany in particular, they have nearly perfected Artificial Disc Replacement in the lower back on multiple levels using a forth generation disc that will not be available in the US for 15-20 years. The FDA just now approved a first generation disc that is allowed to be used on one level disc replacements in the lower back.

M-6L is the name of this disc and it is almost identical to the human disc and its natural function! It has undergone tests that show it has the capacity of lasting over a hundred years!

My only other alternative is a three level fusion in my lower back. Because of my age and the condition of the rest of my back I will eventually end up with my entire spine being fused and I will still have the need for pain medication!

With a three level fusion using the M-6L disc in Germany, I have the chance to regain 100% full function in that area of my back without the need of pain medication! There is more than enough documentation below to convince even the most skeptical person, believe me, I was one of them!

The potential benefits far out weigh the possible negative side effects and is my best option considering my age and the condition of the rest of my back. Not to mention I am the father of three young beautiful children and soon expect to make that number four in August!



SPECIAL THANKS TO:

Wounded Warrior Project

Semper Fi Fund

The Inn of The Patriots

Military Order Of the Purple Heart

RESERVE AID

USMC'S Wounded Warrior Regiment

The Marine Corps League

In Our Boots

The most serious injury sustained was to my back and after six years my back deteriorated to the point that I can no longer work and enjoy everyday life with my wife and kids, they have suffered the most. It will only get worse and now I need surgery and up until now the only surgery I can get would make me worse off. Hopeless. Until now, the surgery I need the VA will not pay for and has devastated my family but we still have a chance to change our lives but we need your help! I could be a father and husband again if we can raise $33,000.00! All the details are below but the bottom line is that we can't do this alone and everyday that passes it only gets harder and harder!

That's a short description of the situation but if you want a better understanding and to know all the facts, everything is explained in better detail throughout this website. God Bless and thank you taking the time to visit!

My name is Brian Edward Dunn; I am medically retired from the United States Marine Corps due combat related injuries on May 9th 2005. I was a machine gunner on the rear vehicle in my platoon’s vehicle formation on one of our many daily patrols outside of Camp Fallujah, Iraq. An Improvised Explosive Device detonated on the driver side of our Humvee flipping it over on the other side of the road. I was pinned underneath the Humvee and sustained multiple injuries, perforated right ear drum, hearing loss & tinnitus in both ears, broken jaw, stitches in my chin, torn ligaments in my shoulder, 2 compression fractures at T-8/T-9, 3 herniated discs w/ annular tiers & degenerative disc disease @ L-5/S1, L-4/L-5, L-3/L-4 and several deep wounds on my right thigh & shin. Aside from all of these I was in one piece and miraculously alive. My best friend who was driving the Humvee was not as fortunate as I was; he lost both his legs in the explosion and lost his life after we were medically evacuated to Baghdad, Iraq.

After my return to Camp Lejeune I began physical therapy and continued for the next year, before they put me on a medical board for discharge I made sure that everything that could be done for me was done and that I documented everything. I was able to get care for my back with a civilian orthopedic spine surgeon, after I was evaluated by him and received every test possible all the way down to a disco gram he came to the conclusion and recommended due to my condition that I hold out on any type of surgery as long as I possibly can because everything available at the time would not benefit me and would more than likely be worse off than before. Also, the necessity for surgery is not a matter of “IF” but “WHEN”. With my injuries my back will only get progressively worse and all that I can do is delay the need for surgical intervention. He informed me of some new procedures that were being developed with artificial disc replacement and said that it would be in my best interest to do my best to manage the pain the best I can with the use of anti-inflammatory medication and exercise with lots of stretching. This has been very effective for me up until recently.

I have worked for the United States Postal Service since my discharge as a City Letter Carrier, got married and have three young children. We are also expecting our fourth child due August 17th. I love my job and love being a husband and father more than anything in the world. December 7th 2009 was the last day I was able to work because of the increased deterioration of my lower back and had to go to the Emergency Room several times because of the intensity of the pain that I have experienced. I am out of work now with FMLA status. I began to go to Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, the best neurosurgeons in the United States; they did all the tests from A to Z again to include a disco gram. They concluded that the best they could offer me would be a 3 level fusion or I can manage the pain with narcotic pain medication. Neither one of these two are acceptable to me. The neurosurgeon explained to me that in the very best cases a fusion would provide 70% pain relief, on average it provides a 50% pain relief, that is with a healthy disc above the fusion and I don't have a healthy disc all the way up to T-8/T-9 in my mid upper back. This route could possibly end with my entire spine being fused. The neurosurgeon did not however recommend ADR surgery considering what we have available at this time in the United States.

In the US we have 1 level artificial disc replacement available, 2 levels is currently under trials with the FDA and it will be a long time before they are able to even begin trials on 3 levels. It would NOT be in my best interest to have just 1 or 2 level replacement done, because when you do something to just one of them it changes the mechanics of your entire back and risks making the other discs worse than before, putting me right back in the same position that I am now. This type of surgery requires going in through the abdomen and any time there is a need to cut into the abdomen there is a huge risk involved and the more you do it the higher the risk. So I would prefer to do it all at once instead of two more times over the next few years. This is an “all or nothing” situation and it is also a time critical problem too. The longer I go without surgery, the greater the chances are that I will sustain permanent damage that will not be repairable. If it gets to a critical point I will end up having to get an emergency 3 level fusion and still have the need for narcotic pain medication for the rest of my life.

I want to get back to my life. I want to be capable of doing all the things that are a part of being a father and husband. I intend to get off narcotic pain medication and return to my job as a City Carrier, none of the options that I have here in the US will do this for me. That is completely unacceptable to me and I refuse to do anything that will keep me from possibly benefiting from more advanced procedures.

There are two different discs available in the US today:
1. Depuy Charite – this version has been obsoleted in Europe for a number of years and the company has replaced it with a newer version. It is a "ball & socket" design and is considered a 1st generation disc by surgeons.
2. Synthes ProDisc – this is also a "ball & socket" design and is considered a 1st generation disc with a lifespan of 5-7 years.
The M-6 has been tested on the bench in test equipment and it is representative of approximately 100 human years. Neither of the above discs have any type of compression capability. The natural spine provides compression and almost all surgeons today understand the need for compression capability in an artificial disc.
The M6 disc that is available in Europe provides motion in all planes, including compression. In Europe, they also market the progressive resistance feature of the disc. It is the only disc on the market that provides this feature. In essence, it controls the motion so that you don't get too much motion. Having too much motion is not good. So the M6's progressive resistance and biomechanical characteristics are similar to a natural disc and is considered physiological. In Germany they are successfully doing multiple level replacements and 92-95% of athletes that have done this surgery have recovered 100% full athletic ability within the first 3-6 months after surgery.

Still being skeptical, I contacted the hospital myself and arranged to send all my studies and films that I have had done to their surgical team for an evaluation. They recommended the same thing that I have known I needed since 2005, 3 level ADR surgery. I have been convinced beyond a doubt that this is the best opportunity I will ever have for any kind of quality of life. This is something that I do not take lightly by any means and is exactly why I have not jumped into any kind of surgery at all up until now. I really wish that I could avoid the whole thing all together but the bottom line is that it is inevitable and I will need surgery but now there is something better.

The problem is that it is in another country and is not approved by the FDA yet, which is the main obstacle when it comes to being able to get approval from the VA. The fact that pisses me off the most is that if I were stationed or living in Germany I would already have this surgery no questions asked. For some reason unknown to anyone there is a waiver for service members/veterans that are stationed or living in Europe that makes FDA approval unnecessary. Because I will be traveling to Germany for the purpose of surgery is the reason why they have denied my claim. Stenum's ADR surgery has been approved by Germany's version of our FDA. Their surgeons have more experience with ADR technology than anyone else in the world and I will only trust them with my life.

I believe as a veteran, I should have the right to choose who I trust with my treatment and seek out the absolute best care in the world not just the best care available in the USA, as well as any other service member that is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the country we love so dearly. I intend to have this surgery regardless of help from the VA, I sincerely hope that the VA will because this is a combat related injury and from what I have been told since day 1 of my military experience that the VA/DOD are 100% responsible for any kind of treatment to the injury. It should not matter that it is outside the US, it is my choice and the VA will not be affected if I end up in a wheel chair or a vegetable from pain medication. My family and I are the ones who suffer as well as any other veteran that may deal with any kind of similar injury. I love this country and I love my family too much to not try and make it better for all of us and our families. I will not stop with just my case. I intend to take it all the way to the top to make sure that nobody else has to suffer as we have had to. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me and thank you very much for any assistance that you can give me in this matter. God Bless.

-Brian E. Dunn
USMC, RET.





The main website where you can find more information and see more photos:

• http://www.combatinjuredmarinefund.com/index.html#/



Other Sites where you can read recent articles written about this Marine and the surgery needed:


Story in The Herald of York County South Carolina
• http://www.heraldonline.com/2010/10/17/2535933/sc-marine-wounded-in-iraq-still.html

Stories in The Charlotte Examiner
• http://www.examiner.com/military-news-in-charlotte/camp-lejeune-marine-vet-fundraiser
• http://www.examiner.com/military-news-in-charlotte/marine-veteran-hopes-for-artificial-disc-surgery

The Hospital where the surgery will take place
• http://www.stenumhospital.com/testimonials/lumbar.asp


There is also an account at Founders Federal Credit Union in the York County South Carolina area called the "Brian E. Dunn Medical Fund Account" for those who feel more comfortable in dealing with an actual credit union.
• https://www.foundersfcu.com/

Testimonies from a Lt. Col stationed in Germany that had a similar surgery paid for by the DOD. Then another testimony from a 1st Lt with the USMC stationed in Okinawa, Japan:

(Lt. Col)
Yes, I in fact had this surgery at the ATOS Clinic in Heidelberg, Germany, paid for by TRICARE PRIME insurance due to the fact that I am stationed in Germany, and not in the United States. I am not totally sure why, but there is a waiver for service members assigned here in Europe to get this surgery, and there are MANY (and their dependents) who have had it. I asked the surgeon, Dr. Feil, why it was not FDA approved in the States, and he said it is matter of cost - several million dollars for the trials, and small companies can't spend it, and large companies have not had the desire. He is one of the innovators of the total disc replacement surgery, and has lectured on its application several times in the US.

In my particular case, I am a 30 year career Army officer, with a background in first infantry, and then Special Forces, having attended the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1984. Years of hard parachute jumps and miles and miles of running and carrying 70-80 pound rucksacks wrought damage on my spine and I had my first surgery, a discectomy/laminectomy at the L4/L5 level in 1988. I was able to recover but over the years the disk progressively became worse, along with L5/S1 below it. I had four EXTREME incidents over the years of mind-blowing pain in my sciatic nerves which even morphine would not temper. Twice I had spinal steroid injections to gradually relieve the pain. I continually endured bad to severe sciatic pain in both legs over the years, and finally went to the clinic at Patch Barracks in October 2009 and found that total disc replacement was an option for soldiers assigned to Germany, though I would not be allowed to receive it if I were assigned to the States.

I met with Dr. Feil, and had extensive MRI and CAT scan exams, along with some other innovations German applications that trace the movement/flexibility of the spine, and Dr. Feil advised me by viewing the results that I had bone-on-bone contact at both the L4/L5 and L5/S1 levels. He diagnosed that I would continue to have the mind blowing pain incidents, and would have basically two options - the disk replacement or fusion in the States, which is not always successful, and incurs a tremendous recuperation period. The total disk replacement removes the offending disk material, opening the disk space to normal, and in essence prevents the compression on the nerve roots. Dr. Feil suggests he has about a 97% success rate. Based on all the options offered, I scheduled the surgery for November 9, 2009.

The surgery is fairly rough - entry through the abdomen and a complete removal of the disk material, spreading the disk space, grooving the vertebrates, and forcibly inserting the new titanium-coated cobalt disks. I had both disks done and was in surgery nine hours. Post-surgery, you cannot eat solid food for four days, and the pain is significant. I was permitted to go home after five days.

I will have to be honest, and tell you that I had an uncommon complication. Apparently, after about six days, I had swelling in the area of the surgery which compressed the nerve roots going to both my legs and I lost the feeling and muscular use of the legs from mid-thigh down. Dr. Feil was surprised and said that it was something that almost none of his patients had experienced, and I in fact talked with others who had the surgery who did not suffer this problem. Resulting, the process to regain the nerve took several months, improving slowly - I had to learn to walk again, and eventually to run. I still have some loss of strength, but it is has improving to about 80% strength, and continues to get better over time.

However, the actual surgery for the back, the leg nerve complications aside, had been great. I was able to wean off completely all pain medications after about four months and my lower back is extremely strong again. I have worked very hard at therapy to include aerobics, and weight lifting. I can lift as much weight as I could at the prime of my life, pain free. My upper body and torso are very strong for a 53 year old, and I can bench press 250 pounds. The issue with my legs was a different story, because the nerves had to regenerate. I eventually was able to start running again, and played full time as the starting pitcher on my unit's softball team over the summer. I have completed a couple of 5K runs, though very slowly (the running is complicated by a knee replacement on my right knee, and a second major repair on my left, having a cadaver Achilles tendon inserted to replace my ACL).

To conclude, although I had abnormal post-surgery complications with the nerves, my back has healed to about the 90% level. I am strong, and I never have the sciatic nerve pain I had before. I feel comfortable with doing anything I want. Dr. Feil has cleared me for a return to parachute duty (if my knees would permit it, which they don't). I have spoken with several others who had the surgery, and all are glad they had it. Some I know elected to not have it, and sought other methods to cure, but their individual situations were different. I am glad I had the surgery, in spite of the side effects, and would do it again.

I would hope that Brian is finally allowed the procedure, and I feel that he will be better for it.

Sincerely,

LTC Leon (Ress) Wilson
US Army, Special Forces
Patch Barracks, Germany


(1st Lt)
All of my back problems stemmed from college football and being an infantry officer for my first year in the Marine Corps. I received two back surgeries while in college, and one immediately after Infantry Officer Course. The previous surgeries were not for back pain, but because of herniated discs compressing nerves causing intense nerve pain in my legs. After the multiple spine operations I had very little disc material left in my lumbar spine. L4/L5 and L5/S1 discs were severely degenerated. The disc degeneration started to lead to very bad lower back pain when doing physical activities. MRIs were done here at Navy Medical and confirmed the degeneration at multiple levels.
The Navy's best course of action was physical therapy, a nerve deadening procedure, epidural shots and if all failed fusion of the lumbar spine. None of which I was willing to do. So I did heavy research on my problem and found that Germany was the leader in disc replacement surgery. Some surgeries resulting in professional, extreme and college athletes returning to full activity within months after the disc replacement.
Stenum Hospital in Bremen, Germany has recently begun implanting patients with the M6-Lumbar ADR (artificial disc replacement) which mimics the structure and biomechanics of the human lumbar disc. This disc is the first ever designed to mimic the exact movement and freedom as of a human disc. After heavy thought and conversation with my family we decided to go through with this procedure in order to preserve my extremely physical and active lifestyle. So against the recommendation of Navy doctors we went ahead and got the ADR procedure done implanting the M6-L artificial discs. I wasn't authorized medical leave for this procedure, so 6 weeks of my annual leave was used, due to the fact that the surgery wasn't recommended and it wasn't FDA approved. Also, the surgery wasn't and will not be covered by Tricare insurance because of the same reason. The surgery happened on 2010 FEB 19, and was performed by Dr. Ritter-Lang, the leading disc replacement surgeon in the world. He has implanted thousands, no exaggeration, of artificial discs.
We spent about two total weeks in Germany, and about one week in the hospital. The very next day I was walking around, up and down stairs w/ no problems. After about a week when we went to the hotel I started using their fitness room and doing some body weight exercises, i.e. body squats, one legged squats, pushups and riding the stationary bike. After about 6 weeks I was pretty much doing whatever I wanted. Right now puts me at about 6 months post-surgery and I can do absolutely whatever I want with no pain or limitations. I ran a physical fitness test on May 28, about 3 months post-op, and scored 281 out of 300. The test included me running 3 miles in 21:10 min, 20 pull-ups, and 100 crunches. This was my highest PFT score thus far. If you were to see me in person I definitely wouldn't look like a person with hardware in the spine and with multiple spine operations under his belt. I probably returned to my normal intense activities sooner than I should have, but I am a PT addict and couldn't stay away too long, and was also very careful doing everything for those first couple weeks.
The new discs are nothing short of outstanding. When I say I am doing whatever I want I mean exactly that, no limitations whatsoever. I'm not a doctor or neurosurgeon, but I do know a lot about the spine and musculoskeletal system, and also the biomechanics of how the body works. The bottom line is the results speak for themselves for what these discs have done for me. If anyone has any questions for me about this please let me know, and I will get back to whomever as soon as I can. Thanks.

-1st Lt Jeff Mayhew, USMC

View more

Updates

Supporter activity

Login to post a comment
or Login