Notable Houstonian Tom Horan at TIRR

June 20, 2011 4:58:29 PM PDT
Tom Horan, a man many Houstonians remember for the wonderful St. Patrick's Day parades he put on downtown, is in the hospital at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research.

Horan is in the hospital for an unexpected complication of diabetes, something he couldn't believe still happened in these days of modern medicine.

Horan loves to be called Houston's "Irishman Extraordinaire." He's run the St. Patrick's Day parades here for decades, had restaurants and is known as a food critic. But today, he's facing a curve in life he never expected.

"I've had diabetes since 1995 and I scoffed at it and it's amazing how ... gangrene, how quickly it spread to cause such a big problem," Horan said.

Horan had gangrene. He couldn't believe it. But his Jeani, his wife of 45 years, knew.

"I looked at his foot and it was all swollen and the middle toe was black and I said that's gangrene, we're going to the hospital. And that's what we did," she said.

That decision saved his life, but it was too late to save his leg.

"They said if he didn't have the operation to take the leg off on Friday afternoon he would not be here, so it was very, very traumatic," Jeani said.

"You'd think in this day and time they could control it, but it was so rapid it was unbelievable," Tom said.

And it all started with a small sore on his foot.

"That happens with gangrene. It's caused by a bacteria called Cholesterinum. It attacks very rapidly and it's a life-threatening emergency," Dr. Jeffrey Berliner said. "Luckily they caught it in time and we have him here today."

Today Tom is doing rehab in preparation for a prosthetic leg.

"The only one thing that disappoints me more in losing my leg is I had to give up my appointment to dance with Michael Flatley in River Dance," Tom said jokingly.

Houston's Irishman will dance again but Tom hopes his story will help others avoid the path he must take to get there.

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