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From Hospice to Hope: HonorHealth Neurosurgeon Gives Patient New Lease on Life

Once on the verge of being placed on hospice care, Melissa Hooper isn’t exaggerating when she says HonorHealth’s expert neurosurgery services saved her life.

Melissa was living in Washington when she was diagnosed with Moyamoya disease, a rare and progressive blood vessel disorder that restricts blood flow to the brain, causing strokes, seizures and other problems. She endured multiple failed surgeries as well as several strokes, including one that left her paralyzed on her right side.

“But I’m a fighter and I’ve gotten most of my movement back,” says Melissa.

Fighter indeed.

Rather than face the prospect of death, Melissa reached out to HonorHealth neurosurgeon John Wanebo, MD, who practices with Barrow Brain and Spine and is one of the few in the nation who specializes in treating Moyamoya disease. She’d heard good things about his practice and about HonorHealth in her online support group for people with Moyamoya and “took the chance blindly” and moved to Arizona.

“He looked at my case and felt like I didn’t need hospice and that he could help,” says Melissa. “I can’t even explain the hope and relief I felt. I started crying in his office.”

Exemplifying HonorHealth’s commitment to providing excellent, compassionate care, Dr. Wanebo was the first to explain everything to Melissa, including her brain scans, so she could fully understand her condition and treatment options. He performed two surgeries at HonorHealth Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center to restore blood flow to Melissa’s brain, remove a metal plate that had been placed in her head and treat a lingering infection in her brain. For her most recent surgery, which appears to be having positive results, Dr. Wanebo developed his own technique to create blood vessels and improve blood flow in her brain.

“I used to have mini-strokes and I had a migraine every single day, plus trouble walking. Now that’s all better, along with my speech,” says Melissa.

“HonorHealth and Dr. Wanebo saved my life.”