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Focusing on patients

Skull-base surgery team weaves tapestry of survival

"While not common even in some of the nation's highly specialized academic medical centers, skull-base surgery teams like this one represent the most effective way we know to pro- vide the best quality of care for patients with very complicated and difficult problems," said head and neck surgeon and otolaryngologist Paul Donald, professor and director of the UC Davis Center for Skull-Base Surgery.

In place since 1990, the skull-base team at UC Davis was a god-send for native Sacra- mentan JoAnn Cabral. Like many residents of California's verdant Central Valley, this 61-year-old had suffered allergies most of her life. Sinus infections, an alternately drippy and clogged nose, watery eyes and headaches came and went with regularity.

But in the late summer of 1997 her symptoms acquired a new twist: numbness on the right side of her nose extending up to her eye.

A visit to her allergist con-firmed yet another sinus infection. But this time even three back-to-back courses of heavy-duty, wide-spectrum antibiotics didn't provide relief. On Sept. 26, as she showered and prepared to head for her office, where she worked as an assistant vice president for the Bank of America, an excruciating pain set in over her right eye. By the next morning her eyelid was drooping, and she was seeing double.

"I had never had a serious illness in my entire life," Cabral recalled. "But I knew something was dreadfully wrong."

Photo right: JoAnn Cabral of Sacramento credits head and neck surgeon Paul Donald with saving her life.


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