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Breathing New Life Into Catastrophic Injury

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18-year-old Reggie Lamour can breathe on his own again thanks to a Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS). (CBS4)

18-year-old Reggie Lamour can breathe on his own again thanks to a Diaphragm Pacing System (DPS). (CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At just 18-years-old, Reggie Lamour’s whole life was in front of him. But one January day, his entire life changed when he broke his neck playing in a rugby game in Naples.

In an instant, Lamour went from being an active, athletic young man to a lifetime of depending on a ventilator to help him breathe.

“Terrifying, because first I thought I was back on the field, but I was in the hospital,” Lamour said of his injury. “I tried moving, but I couldn’t. So I tried going back to sleep, hoping it was a dream.”

Unfortunately for Lamour, it wasn’t a dream, more like a nightmare.

“When you have a spinal cord injury, not only are you not able to move, but you can be unable to breathe,” said Dr. Patricia Byers, a surgeon at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

But Lamour’s story didn’t end there. Two months ago, he went through surgery at JMH to get a new device called a diaphragm pacing system. The DPS has electrodes that were implanted into Lamours diaphragm to stimulate breathing muscles.

The machine is quiet, has no tubes, and is powered by a battery pack the size of a cell phone.

“The ventilator is so annoying and the DPS is just normal,” Reggie said. “I feel much better with it, going out places, eating a little bit better. I could taste the flavors a lot better now.”

“It provides him independence, his ability to get around on his own,” said Dr. Darren Hoffberger, medcial director and pulmonologist for the DPS program, “his ability to become part of society again, go home with his family.”

Ever the sportsman, Lamour said the first thing he wanted to do with his independence is get back out on the ruby field and help coach his teammates.

Lamour is currently staying at an assisted living facility, but doctors said as soon as he gets used to the device, he’ll be back home in Naples in approximately two months.

Jackson Memorial Hospital is the only South Florida medical center that performs the procedure. Lamour got into the pipeline through a grant program developed by the Broward Children’s Center.

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