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David Cary knew he needed surgery to correct a bleeding hemorrhoid condition, but he kept putting it off for the better part of a year.

“I was reluctant to have the surgery,” said the 61-year old Newark man who works as a general laborer. “I was somewhat fearful.”

As a result of the condition, Cary’s doctors had prescribed iron supplements to maintain his level of hemoglobin, the cells in the blood responsible for carrying oxygen to organs and muscles.

During a routine visit to his primary care physician, it became clear that the iron supplements weren’t working. Though he was not experiencing any symptoms, his physician nevertheless told him to get to an emergency room immediately.

Cary’s story is not unique. During National Minority Health Month in April, Saint Michael’s is relating his experience to raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect people from racial and ethnic minority groups and encourage action through health education, early detection, and control of disease complications.

“This procrastination over medical needs is extremely common and harmful in the long run,” said Dr. Hamid Shaaban, an oncologist and hematologist who treated Cary when he arrived in Saint Michael’s Emergency Room earlier this year.

Dr. Shaaban determined Cary needed an immediate blood transfusion. Cary’s hemoglobin levels had dropped to dangerously low levels that could have led to heart failure or even death.

“I was experiencing a little light headedness, a little shortness of breath, but nothing that would lead me to believe I needed a transfusion,” he said. “I thought it was just fatigue. They really saved my life.”

With his condition stabilized, a colonoscopy was performed, which confirmed that his hemorrhoids were bleeding, resulting in low hemoglobin. No amount of iron supplements would help. He needed surgery.

Dr. Jay Stylman, a board-certified general surgeon who has been on the staff of Saint Michael’s for more than 20 years, was called in for a consultation. Dr. Stylman, who has been recognized as a New Jersey Top Doctor for many years, performs a broad range of operations, including open, laparoscopic, colon, rectal and soft tissue procedures.

Cary said Dr. Stylman helped him get over his reluctance about the surgery. On the day of the operation, Cary said the staff put him at ease.

“They told me I was in good hands with Dr. Stylman and that everything would be all right,” he said. “In three or four days, I was feeling like myself again. I am great right now and happy I had the surgery.”

Dr. Shaaban said Cary’s story should encourage everyone to see their primary care physician regularly for routine checkups.

“Our staff are pleasant, thorough, conscientious and professional,” Shaaban said. “We want our community to know we are here to address their health matters.”

To schedule an appointment with a Saint Michael’s Primary and Specialty Care Center, please call 973-877-5080.