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Patient, Able to Walk Again, Says he is the Luckiest Man Alive

Patient, Able to Walk Again, Says he is the Luckiest Man Alive

Richard Dunn, 71, is a retired office manager with a huge personality and a great zest for life. When he started to have difficulty walking and was experiencing weakness in his legs, he first dismissed it and kept on with his life. Dunn lived in Arizona for 25 years prior to his retirement and worked as an office manager for a construction company. Once he retired, he returned to the Bay Area to spend time with his brother and focused on his interest in classic movies and classic rock. He spends his time following sports avidly and researching the history of rock ‘n’ roll prior to 1964.

Dunn’s trouble walking got to the point where he needed a cane and he eventually went to an emergency department, but no cause could be found. However, as his trouble walking continued, he started to need a walker and to experience numbness in his right foot. Dunn was taken by his brother to urgent care and an ultrasound revealed a problem with his vascular system. He was referred to Dr. Joyce Lu’s practice where he was seen the next day.

Dr. Lu is board-certified in vascular surgery with a Medical Doctorate from Albany Medical College, Albany, New York. She is a vascular surgeon for Washington Township Medical Foundation. Dr. Lu takes an active part in helping her patients understand the underlying complexity of their disease, which may have played an important role throughout their entire lives.

Dunn shared, “The problem started on September 13 of last year. My legs had slowly been getting worse over the months. It wasn’t a matter of pain. I just got weaker and weaker. My legs became weak, wobbly and unsteady and I couldn’t walk at all. I started using a cane and then after that, I had to use a walker. It felt like my life was totally over. I was almost homebound. When you can’t walk and you don’t know why, it’s pretty weird and frustrating.”

Dr. Lu explained, “Mr. Dunn came to me having had a month of bilateral leg weakness to the point he needed a walker to aid walking and then in the last week he had noticed right foot numbness. We counseled him that smoking was a major player in this and he began his journey to quit on our first visit. We got CTA imaging that demonstrated bilateral leg disease and scheduled him for surgery after a cardiac workup.”

Dunn said, “Dr. Lu was amazing. She called me in and showed me the ultrasound of my leg and how the arteries were blocked. She told me that the only solution was surgery and to be honest, I was expecting that. So we got the ball rolling. We got the first surgery set up on Dec. 18, the week before Christmas.”

Dunn had severely blocked arteries in his legs that restricted blood flow dramatically and led to the weakness and inability to use his legs. The solution was revascularization where surgery is performed to restore blood flow in veins and arteries. Several complex techniques are typically used in revascularization. Dr. Lu said, “Dunn developed a wound on his left foot and a minor infection. Knowing this, the timetable for his left leg revascularization needed to be moved up as quickly as possible, due to the risk of limb loss. First, I performed a right femoral to popliteal artery bypass with his own vein. Within a month, we performed the same surgery for his left leg. His first surgery took seven hours and the second surgery took six hours, so it was quite a bit of surgery for one person due to the extensive nature of his disease.”

The two surgeries were successful and Dunn has begun to get back to his normal activities. He feels like his life has been almost completely restored. He said, “After the surgery, initially it didn’t feel like there was much improvement. But after the second one, it has been constant improvement. By March 13, my legs were significantly better and I have been able to go back to using just a cane. I am continuing to get better. I've started shopping again, because walking around with a shopping cart is good therapy for people with bad legs.”

Dunn was very grateful for the help of his brother who he described as a partner in his care every step of the way, taking him in for appointments, dealing with paperwork, handling all the scheduling and accompanying him to procedures, and keeping records.

He also couldn’t say enough about how grateful he was to Dr. Lu. “I feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth because if I hadn’t seen Dr. Lu, I don’t think I’d be able to walk again. Dr. Lu was the greatest doctor. I feel so lucky that I was referred to her.”

Learn More

To learn more about the vascular surgery program at Washington Hospital, visit To learn more about Dr. Joyce Lu, visit