By Jennifer Browning
With Project Medishare’s Amputee Rehabilitation Program well underway, approximately 10 patients each week are fitted with a life-saving prosthetic limb. Once the patients are fitted, they are placed in a physical therapy program to help them learn how to use the new limb.
When Certified Prothestists Orthotists (CPO) fit Antoinette Macius, it was the first time she had seen this “fake leg” doctors had been telling her about. While she is still going through physical therapy to help her walk more securely, she is happy about getting fitted with her new prosthetic.
“I am happy to have my leg back again, and be able to walk with two legs,” she said. “I will be happy when I can feel that my life is getting back to normal. Once I get used to the leg, I will be able to walk my kids to school again, and be able to carry water to our house.”
Antoinette said her physical therapy involves a series of exercises, which involves a lot of stretching.
“The therapy is going well,,” she said. “I am starting to feel more and more stable and secure with [my new leg] now.”
Louna Degazon, who was a high school student before the earthquake hit, is also happy to be able to walk again.
“Before they fit me with the new leg, I always felt as if I was going to fall on the floor if I stood up. Now that I am learning to walk again,” Louna said, “I hope I will be able to go back to school so I can finish high school.”
Many patients, like Louna, say that even though they are happy to walk again, they still worry about the stigma that comes with being an amputee.
“I was stressed at the beginning, I know that the new leg will never be able to replace the old one, but I am getting used to my new leg now,” she said. “I am still afraid what people will say or think when they see my new leg, but with time I hope that I will get use to it all.”
To help patients with the stress, Project Medishare has hired Wilford Messine, who was one of the first patients to be fitted with his new leg. Within hours of being fitted, Messine began testing out his new leg playing soccer. He is now working with his fellow Haitians to overcome the physical and cultural obstacles of being an amputee.
Now four months after the devastating earthquake, amputee patients are finding hope. Project Medishare is keeping our promise to continue providing much needed medical care to the Haitian people drastically affected by the January earthquake. Such efforts are still in need of funding so that we can continue to help people like Antoinette and Louna.
Tomorrow is the Celebrity Amputee Gold Classic, where half of the proceeds will go to benefit Project Medishare’s Haitian Amputee Rehabilitation Program. For more information about the tournament click here.
If you would like to personally help Project Medishare continue our efforts in Haiti, click here to make a tax-deductible donation.
*Laurene Leger contributed to this story.