Below you will read our monthly “patient-in-focus” story. It’s about a recent low-income amputee who is now walking with a prosthetic leg due to the work by our partner, and another grant from Bolivians Without disAbilities. Many patients are like Javier. They go about their daily lives when tragedy strikes.
Here is Javier’s story
“I was a highway construction worker until one day in November 2015. I was on a job site, alone at the moment while working on the main highway between La Paz and Oruro. While walking along the motorway and inspecting the previous day’s work, a car sped towards me. It seemed oblivious that I was there on the side of the road. But the car slammed into me nonetheless, tossing my body and crushing my leg.
The driver then raced away in his damaged car, leaving me there on the motorway. I was completely alone. I was found after some hours and taken to a small local medical clinic, but they realized that they did not have the ability to treat such traumatic wounds as mine. So, hours later I was taken to a larger hospital in a nearby city. A traumatologist came to examine me after a delay that seemed like an eternity. His conclusion was that only an amputation would save my life. So, they took my leg off above the knee. I spent 3 months in the hospital recuperating after that.”
Life without a leg
“Life without my leg was a huge change and a monumental challenge. The nurses at the hospital helped me to find ways to look after myself so that I was not totally dependent on my sons for help, such as: washing myself and cooking.”
“I returned home, financially ruined. I had lost my job. It was the only way I knew how to earn a living; and, my life savings had been exhausted by hospital bills. I had no choice but to try to continue my life as best that I could; I had to try and figure out how to take care of my sons. They couldn’t be let down.”
“I felt completely useless because I could not work. This was a very depressing fact after being such a self-sufficient man all of my life. This operation and subsequent difficult years, for my sons, were really a lesson in growing up. Their mother had passed away years before and now that I could not work, they had to work to support the family.”
Javier Makes His Own Prosthetic leg
“This made me determined to have a prosthetic leg. It would mean that I could walk, find work, provide for my boys, and hold my head high again. Some years after the operation, still hobbled on crutches, I decided to invent and build my own prosthetic leg. I have always been very mechanically inclined; A friend helped me search the internet for ideas. I began making my own prosthesis with scraps of metals and materials which I found discarded around my neighborhood. My first leg took me 3 months to make. That one did not last very long since it was my first attempt, so I tried again. My second one was far better, with a spring-loaded knee; it took only a few days. However, this second prosthesis became very painful after extensive use.”
“Luckily, this year I found out about the free prosthetic center, FUNPROBO, in La Paz. I fully expect to be able to return to work with the new prosthetic provided by FUNPROBO, unlike with my old homemade leg, which could only help me when I was in the house. This will relieve me of the economic dependence on my young sons. It will also mean my sons will be able to continue their education. Being able to walk again, without pain and outside the home, has lifted my spirits and my hopes and dreams for the future.”
“Thank You”, Javier.
(Javier received his prosthetic leg due to a grant from Bolivians Without disAbilities).
You can help future low-income amputees like Javier by donating now.
See how many other amputees have been helped by Bolivians Without disAbilities