NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 18, 2012

Supporting one of their own

Colleagues rally behind longtime surgeon with leukemia

NEWBURYPORT — The city's medical professionals are rallying to help a well-known orthopedic surgeon who is battling leukemia.

Dr. Richard Mindess, who practiced at Seacoast Orthopedics and Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport from 1983 to 2007 and was the former chief of surgery at the hospital, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia about a week ago.

He is currently in isolation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to prevent exposure to infections as he undergoes a month of aggressive chemotherapy treatments. If the high-intensity chemotherapy proves successful in killing the leukemia, the hope is that Mindess will then be eligible for a bone marrow transplant, said friend and colleague Dr. Kevin Lanphear, a family practitioner in Newburyport.

Lanphear said news of Mindess' illness has rocked the Newburyport medical community, which is organizing a bone marrow drive next week in honor of him and his passion and dedication to medicine.

"We want to see if we can support our friend and colleague through this whole muddle of a process he's going through," Lanphear said. "He's helped a lot of people in the community."

Mindess' symptoms came on quite suddenly, Lanphear said. Following a weekend golf outing with friends about 11/2 weeks ago, he returned home to Boxford completely beat. When the fatigue worsened over the next two days, he went to see his doctor. X-rays and lab work revealed the leukemia, and he was sent to Boston for treatment, Lanphear said.

"In 24 hours, his life changed," Lanphear said. "He went from being on top of his game to being in isolation for at least a month."

Lanphear said Mindess has been a strong supporter of and contributor to the community. In addition to performing surgery on hundreds of area patients through his practice, he has served as a team doctor for local high school sports teams, including several at Newburyport High.

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