Hoffoss Devall Problem Solver Scholarship Winner

We are excited to announce the winner of the first annual Hoffoss Devall Problem Solver Scholarship: McKenlie Lavergne Perry!

Picture of Lee Hoffoss, T-Claude Devall, and McKenlie Lavergne Perry in Lake Charles, LA

McKenlie’s passion for maintaining safe streets was immediately apparent in her video. The video explained McKenlie’s enthusiasm for raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving in a creative, thoughtful manner.

Join us in congratulating McKenlie! We are proud to help a young member of the Lake Charles community to continue her dreams of pursuing an education in radiology.

Here are a few words McKenlie had to say about receiving the scholarship:

Winning this scholarship means so much to me. I just switched majors to Radiologic Sciences, so it puts me back a few years on graduating. As a newlywed, this will take a huge load off of my husband and I when the semesters start again. It will also help me to focus more on school and less on how I am going to pay for it!

Finally, thank you to all our applicants. Please check back to apply again next year.

Read McKenlie’s Winning Essay Below:

Money drives people. When people get their hands on money, they have the power to do a lot of good, and a lot of bad. Some people will spend it all in a short second. Others will invest, maybe gamble it for more. Some will put it towards charity, churches, and the good of others. If I had a lot of money, a million dollars, I would use it for the good of those around me and the generations to come.

In high school, I had a car accident. The accident wasn’t my fault, and I had a few minor injuries. I had one major hip injury that needed medical attention. I had a surgery called hip arthroscopy, and I had to miss out on so much of my senior year. It was very emotionally traumatic for me. I was an athlete, and I worked my whole basketball career toward my senior year. I had the surgery at the beginning of the academic year. One of the things the doctors found while in surgery, was that the heads of both my femurs were larger than normal. The natural anatomy of my body could have caused the injury during my car accident, they said. They slightly considered that thought, and that the injury was already present, but then threw it out of the window when I told them I never had hip problems. The damage to my labrum, the cartilage between the hip socket and femoral head, could only be repaired by surgery.

My accident inspired me to go into the medical field. I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist, but I just recently changed my major to radiology and I’m already loving it. I want to use my story, gifts, education, and energies to help patients who may have had a traumatic injury or story. I want to help prevent them from needing surgery, by catching that slipped disc on an MRI before it becomes too bad, or seeing that osteoporosis before surgery.

If I had a million dollars, I would team up with some of the finest surgeons in the world and form some type of test that shows patients if they have a congenital condition. A congenital condition that is not life-threatening and not really known, unless medical attention seeks it out. That way, the patient knows what the condition is, and can better prevent injury. I would also, along those same lines, find a way to vascularize cartilage in the body as a better form of treatment instead of surgery.

Cartilage and ligaments are avascular, meaning there is no blood flow going to the area. This means that when someone tears or injures a piece of cartilage or ligament, it can never heal itself. This is why people who tear their Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) have to undergo surgery. If they don’t, they will forever live in really bad pain and their quality of life will suffer tremendously. With a soft tissue injury, a cast isn’t applicable and wouldn’t help it anyway.

When you break a bone, there are a series of cells that go to that location and help to clean up the area and bring new bone in. This is all due to the area being vascular, or having blood flow going to it. If you break a few carpal bones in your hand, your body will send osteoclasts to the site. Osteoclasts are cells that clean up the damage as much as they can. Then, osteoblasts invade. Osteoblasts are the cells that help to build new bone. Of course, this is a process and takes time, so the use of casts and/or splints are very appreciated to aid in this process. But this process is impossible with avascular tissue.

What I would do, is invent some type of technology that would make it possible to inject blood into an avascular area and vascularize it for periods of time to bring it back to proper function. Of course, this would take many sessions, getting the proper blood type, and physical therapy, but anything is better than having surgery. We use stem cells and chicken cells to help in certain medical conditions and inflammation, so why not this? Even if it took the same amount of time as recovering from a surgery, a patient would never have to be cut open, never have to be put under anesthesia, and never have to have an artificial screw or nut in a damaged cartilage or tissue again. Anesthesia is scary, and is one of the reasons for death in surgery. If anesthesia isn’t necessary, which it wouldn’t be with this vascularization procedure, then it takes out the risk of losing a patient in trying to help them. It also helps out the obese and older generation, many of which have to lose weight before they are able to have surgery. How hard must it be to have to lose a lot of weight while you’re in pain!

The vascularization procedure could be done more than once, with no risk of scar tissue or further damage that can happen in the OR. Post-treatment medications would still be prescribed, but not nearly as much as post-operative drugs. This cuts down on costs for the patient, and is better for the human body. This treatment would be more affordable than surgery, and therefore could reach many more people who are living in pain. Extended stay in a hospital room would also be eliminated.

One million dollars would surely cover the research for this project. And if it didn’t, I would work to save money to continue fighting for this cause. I remember my 17-year-old self, how scared I was and how emotionally tragic it was for me to miss out on everything my senior year. It still brings tears to my eyes to talk about it, years later. I could help so many people keep their natural anatomy and have a better quality of life. That is my dream.