by Adama Dyoniziak, Executive Director, Champions for Health

What do a crooner, a quarterback, an actor, a president, a prime minister and a comedian have in common with Project Access San Diego? Frank Sinatra, John Elway, Paul Newman, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Bill Murray and all had Dupuytren’s contracture just like Froilan, our Project Access patient.

Dr. Lindsey Urband, a Project Access volunteer with Champions for Health since 2019, performed hand surgery on Froilan, who had a severe form of this condition in both hands. Froilan’s ability to support his family was very limited. When he was able to work, he often experienced pain and soreness in his hands. When planting greenery, his tools would rub against the outside of his fingers due to their curvature. “The skin would peel away from my fingers as I would hit that part of my hand while working. It would start hurting, then blister, then I would have to peel the skin from my finger and suffer through it so that I could keep working.” Froilan maintained a positive attitude and credits his wife and family for keeping him motivated and feeling supported.

Froilan felt comfortable with Dr. Urband, especially because she spoke Spanish. “I am completely appreciative of the Doctor. She is very kind; she wanted to help me to the maximum effect. I give her thanks for everything she has done. I have seen progress for myself – compared to how I was before.” Dr. Urband is very happy that Froilan is making progress. “The best thing about being a physician is the ability to make a connection on an individual basis to positively influence a person’s life.” Her childhood interests in being both a detective and a scientist led her to pursue a career in medicine. “At the age of twelve, I saw an orthopedic surgeon when I tore my ACL. When I expressed interest in medicine, he gave me a VHS tape of surgeries to watch at home, which were fascinating. In college, I majored in Spanish and interpreted on medical missions to Guatemala. It all came together during my orthopedic residency: the hand rotation was the best because it was a microcosm of orthopedic surgery.”

Froilan continues his post-surgery rehabilitation with at-home physical therapy to help increase the range of motion in his fingers and to breakdown the scarring. “If I recuperate from this, I will able to find work.” His optimism keeps him going as does his determination. He also speaks about having to be patient – “there is no need to start feeling desperate, today there was some progress. I do not want to rush anything because if I hurt myself, I throw away the progress from the surgery.”

Dr. Lindsey Urband is a Hand, Upper Extremity and Microsurgeon with the San Diego Outpatient Surgery Center. Originally from Minnesota, she enjoys hiking, cycling, paddle boarding, alpine skiing and salsa dancing. Most people do not know that she was the 2008 National Champion in Long Track Speed Skating and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in 2019. “Being a Project Access volunteer is very rewarding. I contribute to my local community by touching the lives of those who are less fortunate.”

Since 2008, Project Access has facilitated $24 million in care for 7,500+ uninsured patients by providing free consultations and surgeries. Champions for Health Project Access patients are in good hands with their volunteer physicians – learn more and lend your hand by contributing at www.championsforhealth.org/donate