Buffalo woman learns to live after losing all four limbs
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BUFFALO, N.Y. — For Shannon Smith, the inside of a doctor's office has become somewhat of a second home.
Eighteen months ago, the 29-year-old was living in Las Vegas, pregnant with her second child, when doctors discovered she needed an emergency c-section. Shannon lost the baby, and slipped into a coma, developing a severe sepsis infection. Eventually, she needed to have all four limbs removed.
"After waking up, my body... my limbs were necrotic. So you pretty much know it's going to happen," said Smith. "It didn't probably click in as how sick I actually was until doctors started coming in, amazed to see me that I was even still alive."
Today, Shannon is back home in Buffalo with her family, learning to live a life without limbs. She works with Christopher Berger from East Coast Orthotics and Prosthetics. Together, they decide exactly what type of prosthetics she'll need, and work together to help her use them.
"She has a below the elbow, an above the elbow, a below the knee, an above the knee,'' explained Christopher Berger, Clinical Director at East Coast Orthotics and Prosthetics in Buffalo. "The next clinical goal for us, for Shannon, is to integrate these prosthesis so that she can put them on independently, take them off independently, and use them as she sees fit."
The prosthetics are created in a workshop above the office space. They're molded to each patient, so people like Shannon get exactly what the need.
Today, Shannon is walking on her customized legs, and learning to use her new prosthetic arm, which opens and closes using electrodes attached to the muscles of her arm. She says, keeping a positive attitude is key to her recovery.
"Her attitude is humbling. And she makes you want to work really hard for her," said Berger.
"I think the one lesson I learned from all this is that praying and God, it definitely changed - I'm about to start crying - it definitely changed. My outlook on everything changed because of that," said Smith. "I just say life is just going on. I'm still upbeat, I'm still Shannon, so I just take it from there."
To learn more about Shannon's story, or to donate to her medical fund, check out her website.