Staff Profile: Dusty Burch


December 14, 2018

Dusty Burch, the director of public relations for The Rambler and a senior at Cathedral Prep, is a man that will never get through airport security without being pulled off to the side. Why is this you might ask? He has a big metal rod inside of his chest. 

Dusty was born with a condition known as, Pectus Excavatum, in which a person’s breastbone is sunken into their chest. This is not usually a deformity that affects everyday life or requires an operation, but Dusty had a rare case. His ribs and sternum were pushing in on his lungs and heart, causing severe discomfort. Dusty was in pain and visited many doctors, but no one could discern what was wrong until he went to a cardiologist. The cardiologist discovered that Dusty had a dented chest wall that was causing his suffering. 

When questioned about his pain, Dusty replied, “It was almost like a knife was digging into my chest every time I inhaled. Since my ribs were curving inward and keeping pressure on my lungs when they expanded, I couldn’t actually take in a complete deep breath because I couldn’t get the air in and out of the deepest part of my lungs.”

Luckily there was a way to end Dusty’s suffering. On July 27, 2016, Dusty underwent surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in order to fix his rare condition of Pectus Excavatum. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic placed a metal rod, the width of his chest, inside of Dusty in order to hold his sternum and his ribs in place. This metal rod would help push his chest wall outward, and reduce pressure on his lungs and heart. After surgery, the doctors wanted to monitor Dusty and make sure that everything went as planned, so they kept him in the hospital for three days. While this surgery was great for the overall well being of Dusty, there were a few negatives. 

Once surgery was completed, Dusty became very sore. His body was recovering from the operation, and he could not shower for a week or so, as it caused too much pain and discomfort. As his body was adjusting to the enormous change, Dusty had to avoid physical activity for quite some time. This was difficult for Dusty, as he is very active and greatly enjoys playing soccer. These were just temporary effects of the surgery, and would soon go away unlike some other things. Dusty still has to monitor his movement to an extent. He cannot twist his body or take on other sudden movements involving his chest. If his body were to twist or bend in the wrong direction, the rod may move out of place and undo some of what was done in surgery. This is a very small problem compared to the pain that Dusty was in before surgery and the trade off is well worth it. 

After surgery, Dusty’s breathing slowly got better and his lungs went back to normal. He was only being able to take short breaths before his operation because of his pain, and now he has the ability to breathe normally with fully functional lungs. Now the only major problem he has to face is explaining to security why there is a large metal rod in his chest. 

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