It’s a Brand New Day… Donald’s Story

Donald Merritt’s story is part of UNC REX Healthcare’s Brand New Day patient story series. Donald Merritt is a diabetic who lost his right leg below the knee from circulation complications. Hear his amazing story of how his left leg was saved from the same fate.


My name is Donald Merritt and I’ve been diabetic since August, 1966. I began having severe circulation problems in 2006, which led to several fem-pop by-pass surgeries in both legs. Eventually, amputation of my right leg below the knee was done in January, 2010. All of these surgeries were performed by Dr. David Powell, whom I admire and respect. My wife and I became aware of a clinical study being done at a hospital in Charleston, SC using your own adult stem cells to treat your leg to restore circulation. To participate in the clinical study, current medical information was needed. I went back to Dr. Powell for a check-up and since it had been almost a year since he last saw me, he needed to do further testing in order to provide the information required for the clinical study. After reviewing the test results, Dr. Powell suggested I see Dr. George Adams at REX Heart & Vascular Specialists. He said Dr. Adams was very aggressive with his treatments and knew he could help me. My left leg was in worse shape that I realized and after doing an arteriogram, Dr. Adams told me he could restore circulation with surgery. His exact words were “You’ve got to let me try.” Dr. Adams’ enthusiastic, confident attitude quickly put my concerns to rest about going through another surgery and risk losing more kidney function as a result of the dye used in these types of tests. When I went back for the procedure, my foot was almost blue, which indicated very poor circulation. However, as soon as Dr. Adams unblocked the artery, my foot changed color to normal and my foot went from cold to warm to the touch. He basically saved me from another amputation. I realize that the stents may close up due to scar tissue, etc. but Dr. Adams assured me that every time a stent closes, he will go right back in and open it back up.

My daily regiment includes going to the gym at my apartment complex and walking on the treadmill, elliptical machine, riding the bicycle and using strengthening machines whenever possible. As Dr. Powell told me from day one and Dr. Adams continues to stress to me, the importance of walking to keep the circulation flowing in my legs is the most important thing I can do for myself. Eating healthier and keeping my diabetes under control with an insulin pump are also life style changes I have made for myself. I am forever grateful to Dr. David Powell for his referral and thank God that Dr. George Adams can perform such a procedure. Dr. Adams is one of a few surgeons that perform this type of aggressive surgery using stents and I highly recommend him. Both Dr. David Powell and Dr. George Adams are part of the UNC REX Healthcare team. Dr. Adams assured me that he will be a part of my life as our goal is to keep me from losing my other leg and his encouragement, expertise are just a part of his caring attitude towards his patients. I have never met a doctor more confident in his abilities and skills than Dr. George Adams and the UNC REX Healthcare team is at the top of my list for overall patient care.

–William Donald Merritt