From America-National program inspiring amputees

By: Erin Clarke

Becoming an amputee is a traumatic experience and a national program wants to show people who have lost limbs that life isn’t over after their surgery. As YNN’s Erin Clarke tells us, Amputee Empowerment Partners is inspiring those people to embrace their new life and focus on the future.

EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Mother of three, Erica Watkins, just started college in November when she got pneumonia and that changed everything.

“Three and a half weeks I was in a coma. I woke up three and a half weeks later at Upstate Hospital in Syracuse, hands were bandaged, knees were bandaged, feet were bandaged. I didn’t know why,” said recent amputee, Erica Watkins.

A doctor told Erica that due to complications, she’d lose parts of all four limbs.

“Initial reaction was like devastation,” said Watkins.

But then Watkins realized she still had a lot to look forward to. Life would just be different. A program through Hangar Prosthetics introduced her to a mentor who showed her that different didn’t mean a lesser quality of life.

“It just kind of made me realize that right then and there, it’s going to be possible to get up and walk again and live a normal life,” said Watkins.

That program is Amputee Empowerment Partners. Its national coordinator is Carrie Davis who knows all too well what it’s like to live without a limb.

“I was born without my arm and that was 39 years ago. I was fit with my first prosthesis when I was nine-months-old,” said Amputee Empowerment Partners National Coordinator Carrie Davis.

Today, Davis travels the country educating people about prosthetic options and most importantly, inspiring amputees. Wednesday she met Watkins, who, five months after her amputation, is regaining her mobility and independence.

“I love to explain the technology to people because it’s so fascinating and amazing and all the things that I’m able to do with prosthetic devices, it’s phenomenal. I often say if you don’t have a hand, you don’t have an excuse,” said Davis.

Now Watkins wants to follow in Davis’ footsteps. She’s considering becoming a peer mentor so that she can help others like the program helped her.

For information about Amputee Empowerment Partners, call (315) 492-6608 or visit www.empoweringamputees.org.

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