Juan, an active 41-year-old Bolivian man, worked very hard for 15 years and enjoyed his job as an electrician. However, one day, while on the job, he got caught up in some live wires which sent huge voltage levels through his body. This tragic accident caused massive burns the full length of Juan’s right arm, up his right foot, up his left leg and blinded him in his right eye. Juan was rushed to the emergency department of the local hospital, but the tissue was so badly burned the doctors were unable to save any of the burned extremities; the physicians had no choice but to remove the limbs.
Juan was left with no right arm, only half of his right foot and a below- knee amputation of his left leg, leaving him unable to even stand without assistance. Juan had to move home as he was confined to a wheelchair and unable to do anything for himself, wash himself or do any daily activities independently. Juan was completely unable to work, and he felt like a child again. Juan was forced to rely on his mother for all of his daily needs. Although he was grateful to be alive, Juan felt extremely depressed and wondered about the point of living. As with many of these amputees, Juan contemplated suicide many times.
Years later, Juan discovered our partner, FUNPROBO, and he went for a first consultation in his wheelchair, accompanied by his parents. Juan was full of expectations and also very anxious as he felt this was his only chance to get his life back. On the first day in the clinic, Juan was able to get up and walk using an innovative physical therapy aid which is an air-filled temporary prosthesis. It was the first time he had walked in almost three years. Juan’s face lit up and suddenly you could see his self-esteem and optimism grow as he started to believe he could live again.
In less than a week he was fitted with his final below-knee prosthesis, and an orthosis for the other foot to allow him a stable base to be able to walk again. With this support, he was able to walk short distances assisted only by a cane. He left the clinic vowing to practice and to get back to his previous life. This past November we contacted Juan again for a follow-up. He is walking well—no pain, no problems, and his score on our quality-of-life index had vastly improved.
Juan is just one of the 50 amputees helped each year