Health — 20 May 2014

Special to American News Report

It is estimated there are nearly 2 million amputees in the United States, and it may only just seem that every one of them has a heroic story.

Meet 72-year old Bill Nessell, an amputee who lives in the Inland Empire of California. He is a former deputy with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s  Search and Rescue team.

Bill’s been an amputee for 11 years. He didn’t lose his right leg in action — actually he lost it because of peripheral artery disease from smoking.

He is president and spokesman for Amputee Connections of Redlands, a support group for people who have had arms or legs amputated.  His group sponsors Kids for Camp No Limits which is set for June 27-30.

Metro-AdBill and other amputees took part in the National Limb Loss Awareness event on May 18 at the Redlands Community Hospital.

“There are over 500 new amputees in the U.S. every day,” he said, most of them because of diabetes, which is the leading cause of amputation and why he is fighting so hard to raise awareness

And it seems like for every amputee like Bill Nessell there are people helping them like Michael Bissell and Paul Morton.

They are prosthetists from Winston-Salem, North Carolina who recently were part of a team that went to Haiti to fabricate and fit artificial limbs for Haitian amputees.

They joined two Australian prosthetists and over a dozen other medical volunteers in a clinic in the Haitian city of Port de Paix. They volunteered as part of the Phoenix Rising for Haiti program a nonprofit headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, committed to sustainable orthopedic care in Haiti.

The entire medical group saw more than 100 patients per day during their two week stay. All the prosthetic devices were made from donated materials. It’s a little different obviously.

While in the U.S. a prosthetist can make a fitting and order the right parts.

In a situation like Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, it was more of a make do—but ironically, it’s faster.

“The start and finish was one day—eight hours for one patient’s leg,” Morton said. “In the U.S. with insurance and paperwork and proper documentation, it’s three weeks.”

They treated two dozen amputees in the two weeks they stayed in Haiti.


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