“We were in the waiting room, and he turned to me and said, ‘I don’t know if I want to be here,’” she says. “He almost left. Then Dr. Nagarkar came in and everything changed.”
He had reviewed Mr. Gloria’s records all the way back to his treatments at Parkland. (Dr. Nagarkar worked on the burn ward with Dr. Purdue as a medical student, and says he learned a lot from him.)
Dr. Nagarkar laid out a very specific plan for Mr. Gloria.
“When I first met Willie, he couldn’t straighten his arm, he couldn’t put his wallet in his back pocket with his left hand, and he couldn’t play catch with his son,” says Dr. Nagarkar. “There was significant scar tissue from the skin grafts, so we had to do a series of surgeries on his wrist and forearm to make the tendons longer and release the contracted joints.”
Mr. Gloria had five surgeries in all, plus therapy, and each time his range of motion increased. Dr. Nagarkar was able to add elasticity to his skin and give his bones room to move.
Finally, he performed what is called a free-flap surgery, taking skin and muscle from Mr. Gloria’s right upper arm and bringing it to his left wrist, meticulously reconnecting all the blood vessels in a five-hour surgery performed mostly under a microscope.
“Dr. Nagarkar followed through on everything,” says Ms. Meyer. “He returned every e-mail and text. He would call us at home after surgery just to check in. He made us feel so comfortable.”
‘I’ve got my dad back’
Now, Mr. Gloria says his range of motion is 85% restored. Recently, he took Laura to a Texas Rangers game and sat in the stands with his left arm proudly stretched around her. (They sent Dr. Nagarkar a picture.)