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33-Year-Old Mother Air Lifted To Dr. Taub In NYC


Laura Wright is a young, vibrant thirty-three (33) year old housewife who resides with her husband and two children in Phoenix, Arizona. Laura was diagnosed in September of 1998 with peritoneal mesothelioma by the U.S./Canadian Mesothelioma Panel. After visiting with several doctors in Arizona and California, Laura is now seeking treatment from Dr. Robert Taub at the Columbian & Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City.

Earlier, Laura began to developed ascites (accumulation of serous fluid in the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity. Laura was prescribed diuretics and underwent several paracenteses to remove the fluid. These provided only temporary benefits for the reoccurring ascites. Laura was finally prescribed Prednisone which kept the ascites under modest control. Laura returned to the doctor periodically to have fluid drained. Laura was also prescribed pain medication for pain management.

In February 1998, Laura underwent an abdominal CT scan. The results showed that there was thickening of her lower bowel. The doctors considered Prednisone treatments. Laura's abdominal fluid accumulation and pain continued to be more serve. The doctors continued to treat Laura for a multitude of gastroenterological problems.

On August 12, 1998, Laura entered the hospital via the Emergency Room for excruciating lower abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Another CT scan was performed which indicated that her descending colon was narrowed with an almost complete obstruction. Laura also had an abnormally high white blood count which in most cases is indicative of some type inflammatory process.

Laura underwent an exploratory laparotomy. Upon entering the abdomen, the surgeon, noted an area of the small bowel that was adhered to the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity), descending colon, sigmoid colon and the abdominal wall. The surgeon resected the small intestine from the anterior abdominal wall. The surgeon removed a total of twenty-eight (28) centimeters of Laura's small intestine along with a mass involving the serosal surface of the small bowel and fluid.

In his operative report, the surgeon described Laura's small bowels: "The small bowel was also rigidly adherent to itself in a ball which resembled a can of worms due to the inflammation, adhesions and a mass." The descending and sigmoid colons were so inflamed and thickened that a colostomy was necessary. Laura's doctors noted the severe inflammation and thickening of the colon, but were not sure of the diagnosis. The resected portion of the small intestine and mass were sent to pathology along with peritoneal fluid.

The peritoneal fluid contained reactive mesothelial cells. Upon pathological examination of the mass, pathologist made a preliminary diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma. The pathologists wanted a second opinion, so they sent the material to members of the U.S./Canadian Mesothelioma Panel.

The pathology was reviewed by a number of experts, including Dr. Thomas Colby with the U.S./Canadian Mesothelioma Panel. The expert panel's final diagnosis was malignant mesothelioma.

On September 14, 1998, Laura was told of the confirmed diagnosis. Laura's doctors said they could not do anything locally and advised that she had six (6) months to live. The doctor went on to state that the only known cause of mesothelioma was exposure to asbestos.

Laura was not going to let the cancer invade without a fight. Laura recalled, "I just couldn't go home, lay down and die! I had to go somewhere; do something; find someone who could help me!" After Laura's discharge, she made an appointment at the Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Los Angeles. She had also reviewed our website and learned about Dr.Taub and his multi-modal phase III protocol for peritoneal mesothelioma patients in New York City.

For three days she was examined at Cedars-Sinai. She had another CT scan. The findings were basically the same as the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. The doctor at Cedars- Sinai suggested a treatment option of intraperitoneal chemotherapy, but they did not give very good odds, as chemotherapy alone could not eradicate the tumors. Laura's fears and anxiety grew.

When Laura returned home from Los Angeles, she called this office in tears. Laura wanted to know more about Dr. Robert Taub. We have a client with peritoneal mesothelioma who saw Dr. several months earlier who reported that he had been "cured." Our client was doing well and gave Dr. Taub a glowing report. We called Dr. Taub's office and faxed copies of Laura's medical records. Less than twenty-four (24) hours later Dr. Taub's office called Laura and scheduled an appointment for October 20, 1998.

On October 3, 1998 Laura was admitted back into the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale again via the Emergency Room. She went in for abdominal pain and vomiting. This time the pain was much worse. Laura began received pain medication and nourishment intravenously. Laura was not even allow to have ice chips. She informed her doctors that she had an appointment with Dr. Taub in New York. The doctors at the Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale began working with Dr. Taub. The consensus was that Laura was developing another bowel obstruction. Laura had not eaten in nine (9) days and all nourishment and pain medication was being given her by IV.

With possible surgery looming, Dr. Taub wanted Laura in New York immediately. She was over 2,000 miles away and in no shape to walk, let alone fly or drive! If Laura was forced to fly commercially, all of her IV lines would have to be disconnected and Laura would have to make the flight without pain medication, fluids or any type of nourishment to give her strength. Laura's insurance carrier initially declined to cover the medical flight. Fortunately, Laura's doctors were in no mood for bureaucratic red tape and they went to bat for Laura and her young family. The insurance company recanted it's decision and finally approved payment for the flight. At 8:00 a.m. on the morning of October 13, Laura was flown to New York City on a specially chartered air ambulance.

Dr. Taub reviewed Laura's entire medical file page by page, slide by slide to make his own determination and assessment as to the extent of Laura's mesothelioma. A comprehensive medical review would enable Dr. Taub to design a treatment protocol suited to Laura's diagnosis and current condition.

On October 21, 1998 Laura underwent emergency surgery to repair a perforation of her small bowel. The surgery began shortly after midnight and continued until 3:30 in the morning. Dr. Taub repaired the perforated bowel, removed accumulated fluid and made a new stoma for Laura's colostomy. To prevent further adhesions, Laura's surgical wounds and old stoma were not sutured closed, but were packed with a surgical dressing and antibiotics. The surgical wounds are repacked twice daily and are healing from the inside out thereby reducing the formation of new adhesions. Laura's condition is stable but guarded. She is on heavy pain medication.

Laura is now at the Columbian & Presbyterian Medical Center in New York where she is to begin her chemotherapy in mid-November. Laura is hopeful: "I have a doctor for everything. Dr. Taub, the other doctors and medical staff are wonderful. I feel that I am getting the best possible care."

During Laura's first week at she had an unexpected visitor to her hospital room. Darrell Strawberry of the New York Yankees, who had recently been diagnosed with colon cancer, was on the same floor as Laura. He was receiving chemotherapy and dropped by to visit her. Laura was elated! Here was this big superstar who was speaking to Laura as one cancer patient to another. They spoke the same language of hope and courage.

Laura is trying to stay strong as the holidays approach. She misses her family. Laura has not seen her son and husband since October 13, 1998.

Laura was exposed to asbestos as a child growing up in the household with relatives who were construction workers at various Phelps Dodge smelters in Arizona.

** POSTED NOVEMBER 17, 1998 **

Ms. Wright passed away on May 12, 2006