Friday, September 25, 2009

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THE BEAT GOES ON: Sosa, left, with Jupiter

Ramiro Sosa traveled from his home country of Argentina to Miama, Fla., to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional guitar player. He enrolled in music school and began playing and singing alongside two dancers in a flamenco group to help with school expenses.

One night after a performance, however, Sosa was in a serious car accident. His left arm was severed below the elbow, and the loss of blood left him in a critical state. Also sustaining numerous bone fractures in the accident, Sosa spent several days in a coma. Surgeons were able to reattach his severed arm, but there was little hope that it would be functional, and playing the guitar was out of the question. Unable to give up music completely, Sosa began playing a keyboard with his right hand to pass the time.

Following several months of recuperation in a hospital, Sosa spoke to physician after physician about the next step for his arm. Though most suggested it be amputated, Sosa was determined to find a better solution. He eventually spoke to an orthopaedic expert in his home country, who recommended a friend and colleague he thought might be of help -- Jesse Jupiter, MD, chief of the MGH Orthopaedic Hand Service.

Sosa moved from Florida to Massachusetts in order to obtain the health insurance he needed to meet with Jupiter. On Oct. 29, 2008, Jupiter and Jon Winograd, MD, of MGH Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, replaced missing
soft tissue with a microsurgical free-muscle flap.

This was followed by a second surgery in January 2009, in which the bones about the elbow were secured with metal plates and screws. Both operations were successful, and for the first time since the accident, Sosa had a stable and mobile elbow and some movement capability in his left hand and arm. With time and additional physical therapy, it is hoped that his range of motion will continue to improve.

To show his gratitude and demonstrate his newfound abilities, Sosa offered a special performance Sept. 8 for Jupiter, his staff and patients, playing his keyboard and singing in the waiting room of the Hand and Upper Extremity Service on Yawkey 2.

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