Susan Warnke

Funny how the bubbling up of an inarticulate exclamation like “hmm” can pause and even change the course of one’s life.

Susan Warnke remembers that moment in time, inhaling deeply when a vascular surgeon in her home state of Indiana somberly suggested that a troublesome toe on her left foot might require amputation.

“That’s when I went ‘hmmm’ and remembered that ‘I know a guy,’” she says with a wry smile.

That “guy” was Dr. Mustapha here at ACV.

As we mentioned, Susan hails from The Hoosier State, where she shares a lakeside home with husband Paul and their youngest of three sons, Andrew. Susan was born in South Bend, one of six children. She and her sister went into the food service business; all four of her brothers are doctors.

As a youth and into her teens and 20s, Susan swam competitively, participated in synchronized swimming, led aerobics classes and wouldn’t be embarrassed to say she was a “gym rat.”

“I led a very healthy lifestyle,” she says.

As life progressed, she jokes that “my warranty seemed to run out when I was about 50,” and health issues surfaced. High blood pressure reared its head, as did diabetes. In her late 50s, she had stents inserted “because I was developing circulatory problems.”

It eventually spread to her legs, and forced her to endure several vascular surgeries. As she approached her 60s, her cardiologist recommended she see Dr. Mustapha. He performed a procedure and she returned home the next day “walking and feeling fine, with no pain,” remaining largely problem-free for six years.

In 2019, however, she developed an infection in the first toe next to her big toe on her left foot. She spent four days hospitalized in Indiana, during which time there was scant improvement. That’s when a vascular surgeon there mentioned “amputation” and Susan called a time-out and went “hmm.”

“I made them discharge me,” she recalls, “and had them send my records up to Dr. Mustapha. He fixed my toe and when I went back to show my podiatrist, both he and his assistant were amazed, remarking that they’d never seen such healing like that in a toe. It was pink, it was viable, and the circulation was great.

“In my opinion,” says Susan, “he saved my foot from eventual amputation.”

Husband Paul recalls how the Indiana medical team “was very skeptical and almost dismissive when we said we wanted to go see Dr. Mustapha. But when we went back, they admitted they’d never seen healing like that. It makes us deeply hopeful people will consider that they may have alternatives.”

Susan – and Paul – are grateful not only for the obvious, but also that Susan’s health allows her to continue caring for son Andrew, now 41. He has special needs emanating from an automobile accident that rendered him disabled, partly due to his reliance during recovery on opioids. “We take care of him on a daily basis,” says Susan. “We call him our blessing, and if it weren’t for Dr. Mustapha, I would not be able to care for him in the way that’s required.

“We will be forever indebted to him and his staff.”