IRON RIVER, Mich. (WLUC) - Two years ago Mary Kurtz suffered from gastroesophageal reflux disease making daily activities unbearable.
"I would wake up with terrible terrible pain in the chest area, it wasn’t a heart attack, I knew that, but it took my breath away," said Kurtz.
Typically a surgeon could perform an open surgery by making a long incision in the abdomen to prevent acid reflux. However this wasn’t an option for Kurtz.
"Being a witness, we abstain because in the Bible it tells us in Acts 15:20 to abstain from blood through digesting it or taking it in as a medical use and this is our belief," explained Kurtz.
After consulting with non-witness and witness friends, Kurtz came across Dr. Fanous who could offer a TIF surgery where her esophagus could be worked on by entering through the mouth.
"TIF or Transoral incisionless fundoplication where we use the device called the EsophyX HD device to go in, use the patient's tissues to construct the valve between the stomach and the esophagus," said Dr. Medhat Fanous.
Currently Aspirus is the only program in the UP that provides this new option for surgery. Not only is it safe and durable but done as an outpatient procedure.
"It was the best thing I’ve ever done," said Kurtz. "After two years, I have no pain I have no acid reflux, I can eat things that I never even thought about touching before."
And Kurtz isn’t the only one who seen the benefits of the TIF procedure, in just under two years, Aspirus has helped more than 150 patients go through similar surgeries.
"It’s a tight community and the word of mouth is very strong but the fact we’ve seen 150 procedures, it’s a testimony to the quality of our work," said Dr. Fanous.
Recently Dr. Fanous published a study regarding the safety of the TIF with Jehovah witnesses and Kurtz couldn’t be more thankful for his work and consideration of her beliefs.
"I am happy that Dr. Fanous went along with this, because it is a big thing for us."
Click here for a link to the study.