This medical video looks into new technology that helps save limbs.
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Jennifer Matthews: As mother and daughter, Cheri and Mary Louise Thompson have been leaning on each other for a lifetime. Cheri Thompson: She's one of these people that all throughout all of her life has complained very little, no matter how hard things were. Jennifer Matthews: Things did get hard for Mary Louise. She's lost one leg, and without something extreme, she could lose the other. Mary Louise Thompson: I'm interested in getting this leg well. That's the main thing. Jennifer Matthews: Mary Louise has critical limb ischemia --caused by severely reduced blood flow in the leg. Amputation is often needed. Stanford cardiologist Stan Rockson hopes to change that. Dr. Stanley Rockson: We're giving a biological bypass. It would mean keeping a leg when a surgeon wants to cut it off. Jennifer Matthews: It is gene therapy. Doctors inject DNA, which tells the body to make new blood vessels. Those vessels restore blood flow in the leg. Dr. Stanley Rockson: It's like coming up with a cure for somebody who has widespread cancer. Somebody that was previously considered untreatable is now treatable, and perhaps, even curable. Jennifer Matthews: Unlike standard gene therapy, this growth factor is injected directly into the muscle of the damaged leg. Mary Louise Thompson: I hope that it's going to be perfect for me, and that I'm going to be on my own again to do anything in the world I want to do. Jennifer Matthews: Cheri is also hopeful. Cheri and Mary Louise Thompson: It's going to be a real boom in terms of the amount of stress that she's not going to have to deal with anymore. Jennifer Matthews: This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.