In the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery, there are specialists who focus on a very specific need that can make all the difference in a patient’s life.
One of those specialists is Amy M. Moore, MD, Washington University plastic and reconstructive surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. One of her patients, Drew Barber, credits Dr. Moore with his ability to use his hands after experiencing a traumatic injury more than two years ago.
Dr. Moore, whose training includes a residency in plastic and reconstructive surgery and an orthopedic hand fellowship, specializes in complex wrist, hand, peripheral nerve and brachial plexus surgery. Her patients include those with acute or chronic injuries, traumatic or non-traumatic.
“Plastic surgeons were historically the first hand surgeons,” Dr. Moore says. “My patients are all ages who have either injured their hands or have developed hand pain or dysfunction over time.”
Her treatment of patients can range from complex surgical cases that may require inpatient hospital care to those she sees in her offices for outpatient surgical procedures, injections and other care. Dr. Moore recently began seeing patients at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital for both clinic hours and surgical procedures at the hospital.
Because of her specialty, she often builds long-term relationships with patients who require extensive care, such as Drew Barber.
The night before Drew’s accident, his mom, Laurie Barber, wasn’t feeling well and decided not to go to work. She now believes it might have been fate that she was home when she got a knock on her door on April 14, 2014, that there had been an accident.
Drew, then 19, was working as an apprentice lineman in Russell, Kan., for the city’s electric company. Laurie learned that Drew had been electrocuted and was being airlifted to Via Christi Regional Burn Center in Wichita. “I had damage to both hands and arms to a certain extent, but nothing above my elbows,” Drew says. He required the amputation of several fingers and his hands were nonuseful because of extensive damage to his tendons and nerves.
Following several surgeries, Drew says the doctors at Via Christi had done “all they could do” and, based on research, contacted Dr. Moore, who accepted Drew as a patient. This become a two-year journey and lifelong bond for the family and his new surgeon.
Drew was transported to St. Louis by ambulance, and Laurie and her daughter, Lauren, met Drew at Barnes-Jewish Hospital on June 1, 2014. “We arrived in St. Louis in the middle of the night and were immediately taken care of by the wonderful staff at Barnes-Jewish Hospital,” Laurie says. “Drew was scheduled to have his first surgery the next morning, and that’s when we met Dr. Moore. She was warm and kind and she looked at Drew and said, ‘We’re going to be good friends.’”
From June 2014 until May of this year, Drew would undergo multiple surgeries, including skin grafting and nerve transplantation.
“Drew suffered devastating injuries to both hands, and it was pretty daunting, but I knew that I could help him,” Dr. Moore says. “Due to the timeframe of the injury and need to maximize function, I began his reconstruction applying basic plastic surgery principles. Each limb had a different set of injuries and challenges. After the initial stabilization, Drew underwent surgeries every three months for two years.”
St. Louis became a second home for Drew and his mom. During their two-year stay, they received support from Drew’s siblings, Lauren, Nolan and Taylor, and other family and friends as he rallied to heal.
Dr. Moore credits Drew’s age and determination, ability to endure multiple surgeries and motivation to maximize what was left of his hands to his continued success, as well as his family’s tremendous support and advocacy.
“Drew would not be able to do what he can today if it were not for Dr. Moore’s expertise,” Laurie says. “There is not one thing she tried to do that did not work well for Drew.”
The desired goal for Drew and Dr. Moore was that he have as much functionality as possible with both hands. Thanks to the multiple surgeries and a prosthesis on his left hand, he is able to use his right hand for grip strength and left hand for mobility.
“Dr. Moore has a cheerful personality and is so together with her thoughts. Even though things were bleak when I got to St. Louis, she said I’d be able to use my hands again,” Drew recalls. “She was confident and willing to try things.”
Drew is currently completing a program with Work Hardening & Conditioning in Manhattan, Kan., which helps people recovering from traumatic injuries get back into the workforce. His goal is to get back up on the electrical pole and work as a lineman again.
“I’m of the mind that if Drew wants to try being a lineman again, he could probably do it,” Laurie says. “We’re very grateful he is with us today and to Dr. Moore for what she has done.”
Drew will continue to see Dr. Moore in her office at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital for at least five years, where she will monitor his progress. Dr. Moore considers the most important part of her practice to be the dialogue she has with patients like Drew and their desire to achieve a shared goal.
“It is a privilege to have patients put their trust in me to achieve the ideal shared outcome,” she says. “Drew is an amazing patient who challenged me in a good way.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Amy M. Moore or another specialist, call 314.542.WEST (9378) or toll-free 844.542.9378 or request a call for an appointment.