This year in the United States, as many as 109,000 women may choose to have breast reconstruction after undergoing a mastectomy. Now, a new microsurgery done during some reconstruction processes is restoring the sense of touch.
Jane Obadia and her husband Danny take nothing for granted. Not Jane’s health and not their 7-year old Elana. Jane and Danny were having fertility problems and were one week away from having a surrogate carry a baby for them when Jane’s doctor called. She had cancer in both breasts.
"When you’re initially given the diagnosis, your focus is on survival. 'What do I need to get through this,' said Jane.
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Jane had a double mastectomy and implants, then had Elana through a surrogate. But after a few years, a recurring complication brought her to microsurgeon Dr. Constance Chen who suggested a procedure called 'resensation.' Instead of implants, she used Jane’s own tissue to rebuild her breast, then reconnected the nerves that were severed during mastectomy.
“Resensation involves taking a nerve graft and reconnecting it to a nerve on the flap or the tissue that is used to restore a patient’s breast,” said Chen.
It’s then connected to a nerve on the chest wall, which restores feeling. The graft is made from processed human tissue.
“The axons regrow, start to regenerate at a millimeter a day,” Chen explained.
Jane says she has about 80 to 90% of her feeling back.
“Now when I give my daughter a hug and her head rests there, I can feel her breath on my chest. That’s priceless,” Jane shared.
Chen says the resensation procedure adds only about 30 minutes to reconstructive surgery and it is covered by most insurance.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer.