Saving Jelena’s Leg: Limb-Loss Prevention in Vascular Surgery

January 24, 2023
Dr. Asem Saleh and Team 3

Jelena’s leg amputation was avoided thanks to the excellent care she received from her team at Humber River Hospital.

Jelena was having a hard time walking. A diabetic ulcer had developed on her foot and the pain was so extreme that the fear of pain dictated her every movement.

Her son, Marko, took his mother from one medical appointment to another. One of his former co-workers, who was also diabetic, had passed away at the age of 34 from complications from a similar foot ulcer. To Marko, the matter was much more serious than pain while walking – he was desperate to get his mother the help she needed to save her life.

One doctor they met with suggested amputating Jelena’s leg from below her knee to stop the infection from spreading. It was discouraging, but Jelena and Marko weighed their options, worried about the alternative.

Then they met Dr. Asem Saleh, a Vascular Surgeon at Humber River Hospital who specializes in limb-loss prevention and diabetic foot care.


Saving Jelena’s Leg

endovascular surgery

Dr. Saleh performed Jelena’s surgery in one of Humber’s Hybrid Interventional Radiology Suites, a cross between an operating room and a medical imaging suite.

“As soon as Dr. Saleh saw my mom’s foot, he know it was bad – but he told us he wanted to save her leg and that he wouldn’t allow the amputation,” says Marko. “Before we left the clinic that first visit, Dr. Saleh had already booked us a room at the Hospital for surgery the next morning.”

Dr. Saleh performed Jelena’s surgery in one of Humber’s Hybrid Interventional Radiology Suites, a cross between an operating room and a medical imaging suite where surgeons use technology to see, diagnose, and operate all in one room at the same time. The surgery was a success and he was able to restore the blood flow to the majority of Jelena’s foot, with the exception of one of her toes, which he unfortunately had to amputate.

“Dr. Saleh did everything he could to save my mom’s leg,” says Marko. “He cares so much for his patients. I could tell that he was upset that he couldn’t save her toe, but we are forever grateful for his care.”

Today, Jelena’s wound is healed and she is mobile again – in fact, she proudly claims she can’t feel the difference of her missing toe.

“Dr. Asem Saleh saved my mom’s life,” says Marko. “He saw her foot and reacted quickly. If it wasn’t for him, my mom could have lost her foot, her leg, or even her life.”


ownhealth: The Importance of Proper Treatment for Diabetic Foot Care

Dr. Asem Saleh is passionate about saving limbs. As a vascular surgeon, he has seen first-hand the impact on patients when diabetes prevented wounds from healing properly. With more continuity of care, access to evidence-based best practices, and increased ownership of a patient’s care, Dr. Saleh and his colleagues believe that many amputations, like the one he saved Jelena from, are preventable.

That’s why Dr. Saleh, along with Dr. Kerry Graybiel, the Chief of Vascular Surgery at Humber River Hospital, and several of their medical colleagues across Ontario created ownhealth, an online ecosystem for patients and providers with the goal of preventing limb-loss.

  • Patients can book a virtual consultation and their team will develop an individualized care plan
  • ownhealth works with a network of clinical sites to provide convenient locations for diagnostics, in-person wound care, and surgical interventions
  • The platform improves access to evidence-based, expert foot care

Jelena’s leg amputation was avoided thanks to Dr. Saleh’s excellent care; care that Dr. Saleh hopes more patients like her will receive thanks to ownhealth.

To learn more visit



Please note: Names have been changed for the comfort of Jelena and her family.