Maggot therapy saves man's leg from amputation

SUGAR LAND, Texas – What’s old is new again, even in medicine.

A medical technique used centuries ago has become a modern-day answer to saving diabetics from leg amputations.

It sounds like a scene from a Halloween horror movie, but the technique to cure infections with maggots is now available in modern hospitals.

“I called them my bug buddies,” Randy Harang said.

Harang said he went to the doctor for a spot on his foot.

“Overnight, this infection in my foot exploded,” he said.

He was given a choice: Amputate from below the knee or allow Dr. Nicholas Desai of Houston Methodist Sugar Land to tape maggots to the wound.

“Our goal and primary objective was to minimize and prevent any removal of his foot more than necessary,” Desai said. “Ultimately, (we wanted to leave) it in a very clean bed so that it could receive the graft and expedite healing.”

As a family business owner at Brazoria Lumber, Harang is on his feet all day and said the procedure didn’t just give him a quick fix and recovery, it saved his livelihood.

“When Dr. Desai told me this is going to save my foot, I was all good with it,” Harang said.

According to Desai, the procedure is available only at Houston Methodist in Sugar Land but is surging in popularity, which is good, since diabetic complications are becoming more common as the minority population increases.

“What this is allowing me to do is allowing me to find new ways to curb an epidemic that’s happening when you have a diabetic foot infection in any of these social strata or racial demographics,” he said. “We’re able to attack it much more quickly, much more rapidly and essentially, effective and efficiently, to get them back to health.”

He said the best part of the treatment is that no matter how much the infection has progressed, maggots allow doctors to stop the infection right there, instead of typical options that might include amputating from higher than the infected point.

Harang said he never felt the maggots crawling on his wound.