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On a bitterly cold morning in late February, a medical team gathers at 7 a.m. on the third floor of The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus to launch what will be an unprecedented day of surgery.
The team’s goal is audacious: to restore movement to the right hand of Tim Raglin, a 44-year-old quadriplegic whose fingers have been frozen in place since August 2007.
During that year’s Civic Holiday long weekend, Raglin, a project manager at an Ottawa high tech firm, dove from the dock of his family’s Round Lake cottage, near Pembroke. The cottage had been in his family for generations; he had made the same plunge hundreds upon hundreds of times.
This time, however, a heat wave and a deep dive combined to produce disaster. Water levels were unusually low in Round Lake that year and Raglin smashed hard into the sandy bottom.
He floated to the surface with a vertebra in his cervical spine shattered to pieces.
Now, more than seven years later, surgeons will try to reanimate Raglin’s paralyzed right index finger and thumb.
Dr. Kirsty Boyd, an Ottawa Hospital plastic surgeon, will be performing the nerve transfer surgery — the first operation of its kind in Canada — under the mentorship of the woman who pioneered the technique at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Dr. Susan Mackinnon.
Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen