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California man thanking IU doctor for saving his feet from amputation

“To have the ability to walk again, to go out and be independent, I feel like I have my freedom back,” said Vimal Patel.

INDIANAPOLIS — On Tuesday, a California man made a special trip to Indianapolis to thank an IU Health doctor who saved his feet from being amputated.

“I’m just grateful for him. I’m grateful for him to take the time to give a chance and to go above and beyond,” Vimal Patel said.

In August 2020, Patel was in a serious car crash in Orange County. He said he bought a new car and took his friend out for a drive when he lost control going 140 mph on a city street and striking a nearby pole.

He said he and his friend managed to get out of the vehicle and wait for paramedics.

After that, the father of two was rushed to a local hospital where doctors told him they would need to amputate both legs from the knee down since they were so damaged.

“They said they did the best they could, but they had no options for me,” Patel said.

Credit: Vimal Patel

It’s an answer Patel’s family didn’t want to hear as they began searching for other options. He said his brother-in-law Googled “high-speed crash” and found IU Health Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon Dr. Brian Mullis.

So, the family flew to Indianapolis, but Mullis had the same opinion saying at the very least Patel’s right foot would need to be amputated for the best chance of recovery.

“I said, ‘Wow this is not what I came here to hear.’ I came with hope,” Patel said.

That’s when another IU Health doctor suggested limb salvage, which would be a little riskier because of the chance for infection.

So, Patel agreed to surgery to save both his feet. At the time, he lost a lot of bone and soft tissue because of the high-energy injury.

“Part of our job is figuring out, how can we save a foot that is missing tissue and bone?” Mullis said.

Patel went through multiple surgeries and stayed in Indianapolis for about a month. He then flew back to California for extensive therapy, which included being in a wheelchair for three months.

“Just standing and brushing my teeth was hard. I had to sit down and brush my teeth. So, things that normal people take for guaranteed were a struggle for me,” Patel said.

Credit: Vimal Patel

Then in December 2020, there was finally some hope.

“I was able to stand on my own. It wasn’t for very long. It was probably for 20 seconds, and I sat back down again but I knew this is something I could continue to build on,” he said.

Now, two years later Patel said he is back to doing normal things like traveling and enjoying time with his family.

“To have the ability to walk again, to go out and be independent, I feel like I have my freedom back,” he said.

Mullis said injuries like this aren’t uncommon, but Patel’s recovery is definitely remarkable.

“He is a winner. Unfortunately, there are some patients that are doing their best and they just can’t get over the pain and disability,” Mullis said.

It’s why Patel wanted to come back to Indianapolis this month to thank the doctor who gave him a second chance when no one else would.

Credit: WTHR

“It meant everything to me because I got my life back,” Patel said.

“I mean this is why we do our job, it’s not the long hours we enjoy, it’s the patients having a good outcome,” Mullis said.

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