(WARNING: Due to graphic content in the video, viewer discretion is advised.)
PHOENIX (KSAZ) -- Every year in the U.S., about 73,000 amputations of the lower limb are performed on people with diabetes, but what if 90% of those amputations didn't need to happen?
That's most likely the case, and one Valley doctor is trying to get the word out.
"I had been in a motorcycle accident," said Charles Raymond. He was hours away from having his big toe amputated. The surgery was scheduled.
"A 700lb motorcycle crushed down on the knuckle and toe of my foot," said Raymond. While he slowly recovered from the crash, his foot never did. It looked awful.
"Nasty! Honestly, you would have seen nasty," said Raymond. "It was shades of purple and black, and a major sore on the inside."
Raymond said it was horrible.
"I haven't worn shoes for a year and a half," said Raymond.
He struggled to walk. The real struggle was accepting the loss of his toe forever.
"I'm quite athletic, I still do martial arts and you need to have your balance and movement," said Raymond
In a last ditch effort, Raymond reached out to Dr. Scott Brannan at Modern Vascular to see if he could help.
"Charles' toe was 48 hours away from being amputated," said Dr. Brannan. "A toe amputation may not seem like a big deal, unless it's your toe."
If there was any way to save Charles' toe, the doc who's saved hundreds of toes, feet and legs would know how.
"In about 90% of cases, amputation is preventable," said Dr. Brannan, who is a hero to many diabetics and people facing amputation due to poor circulation in the lower legs.
"People know, especially diabetics, that that the toe is the first step," said Dr. Brannan. "After that it's the mid-foot."
Then the lower leg. Dr. Brannan took one look at Charles' toe and said:
"We're going be able to save that toe."
Like so many amputation cases. The tiny arteries in the foot and lower leg are restricted, preventing blood flow.
"That impaired blood flow makes it so it's difficult to heal a wound," said Dr. Brannan. "We've got something that's narrowed, we go down and make it bigger."
Dr. Brannan uses a tiny balloon to push open the artery walls an -a tiny stent to keep them open.
"It's only within the last 10 years that we've had the wires the catheters down the little drills to go down in the mall arteries below the knee and below the ankle," said Dr. Brannan.
Once the blood flow is restored, the body can heal a sore or wound, and the injured foot or toe can be saved. That can mean the difference between life and death.
"After major amputation, within one year, 50%t dead," said Dr. Brannan. "Within 5 years, 75% are no longer with us."
Arizona's Native American population's amputation rate is 4 times higher than non-natives.
"It took almost 40 years for that technology to get out to the reservation," said Dr. Brannan. "It's not because people don't need it. It's not because they don't want it. I decided to dedicate myself to that mission, to reducing the number of amputations in the Native American populations."
Raymond says his big toe was not only saved. He can't believe it actually feels better than it did before the accident.
"I hug everybody when I come in here because they deserve it," said Raymond.
And the big test for Raymond was now, he is finally wearing shoes again.