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Successful Phrenic Nerve Decompression Gives Woman New Lease on Life


The Plastic Surgery Center today announced that a New Jersey medical team led by Dr. Matthew Kaufman performed the fifth successful phrenic nerve decompression to reverse diaphragm paralysis. Immediately following the groundbreaking procedure, the patient, Julia Cooke, now breathes without complications, feels “20 years younger,” and leads a healthy, pain-free life.

Ms. Cooke, 57, from Grayson, Kentucky, was given six months to live due to her chronic pneumonia caused by a paralyzed right diaphragm, which lost function as a result of complications during a June 2009 surgery. Ms. Cooke was previously told no treatment existed for diaphragm paralysis and suffered severe shortness of breath, chronic fatigue and incessant bouts of double pneumonia. In addition to allowing Ms. Cooke to breathe normally, the procedure has also significantly improved her mental and physical well-being, helping her to fully recover.

In a highly complex procedure on May 11th at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, New Jersey, Dr. Kaufman performed a microsurgical decompression of the phrenic nerve to restore function to Ms. Cooke’s right diaphragm, providing her immediate relief. As part of the process, the doctors also took the sural nerve from her leg and transplanted it to the phrenic nerve in her neck.

“We are extremely excited about Julia’s successful results, as the procedure has proven to be life-changing for people with diaphragm paralysis who were previously told nothing can be done,” said Dr. Kaufman, who is currently the only known surgeon in New Jersey to perform this innovative surgical procedure. “Additionally, this represents a significant opportunity for patients with breathing difficulty caused by surgery complications, spinal cord injury, lung-related illnesses and other medical tragedies.”

To learn more about phrenic nerve decompression, please visit

About The Plastic Surgery Center
Dr. Kaufman is a part of the medical team at the Institute for Advanced Reconstruction at the Plastic Surgery Center, which is comprised of a group of surgeons who are highly skilled in nerve transplantation and advanced reconstruction. They perform a number of unique operations to help patients suffering from life-altering medical conditions who are often told there are no treatment options available. Some of these conditions include:

• Paralysis resulting from accidents and strokes
• Diabetic neuropathy
• Paralyzed diaphragm/ventilator-based breathing
• Facial reanimation
• Nerve decompression for migraine headaches

For further information, please visit


About Dr. Matthew Kaufman
Dr. Matthew Kaufman is a board certified Plastic Surgeon and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS). He has the rather rare distinction of also achieving board certification in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, which gives him the added expertise necessary to deal with complex cosmetic and reconstructive problems of the head, face and neck. Dr. Kaufman has special interests in reconstructive surgery for cranial nerve disorders, skin and head & neck cancer and vascular malformations. He practices at the Plastic Surgery Center in Shrewsbury, NJ, and is a Cancer Reconstruction and Microsurgery Consultant for the Head and Neck Oncology Group of Central New Jersey based at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick. Dr. Kaufman is on the advisory board for FM World Charities (, a not-for-profit organization devoted to promoting public health and improving the quality of life in underserved communities throughout the world.


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