Pilgrim Bandits are a group of amputee soldiers who lost limbs in Afghanistan and now work to support and inspire other wounded soldiers to live life to the fullest. Established by a small group of British Special Forces, the group has now extended their help to Alex Lewis, a quadruple amputee.
34-year-old Alex Lewis did not lose his limbs in battle. In fact, he lost his limbs as the result of a devastating Group A Streptococcus infection. Strep A infections are very rare – most people can be successfully treated with antibiotics. However, around one in four people who develop the infection, will die from it.
Initially, Lewis thought he was suffering from a common cold; however, he was eventually diagnosed with the blood infection that eventually developed into septicemia and toxic shock syndrome. In a matter of weeks, Lewis was in a coma, on dialysis, with multiple organ failure. He was given a five percent chance of survival.
While in the hospital, gangrene began to set in. The only solution was amputation. During a series of operations during December and January of 2013, surgeons amputated both of Lewis’ legs above the knee, his left arm, part of nose, and his lips. They had tried to rebuild his right arm using muscles from his back; however, ultimately, surgeons had to amputate his right arm as well.
In an interview with Daily Mail, Lewis described his tribulations, “My life will never be the same again, our family life will never be the same again but I feel lucky. I’m lucky to be alive today. To be able to have the chance to walk the dog with my son again in the countryside, something as simple as that, just like I used to. That’s amazing. I think you realize how precious life is. It sounds corny but it’s so true.”
Now, Lewis has his eyes focused on new goals, such as marrying his girlfriend and mother of their three-year-old son, in France later this year. In an interview with UK based news company Metro, Lewis described his proposal as less-than-romantic, “If I had tried to get down on one knee, I wouldn’t have got up again…She tells me that she won’t marry anyone shorter than her so I have got to be up on prosthetic limbs for that reason alone.”
And so he is – in October 2014, Lewis walked again for the first time, using prosthetic legs. He also uses prosthetic arms, and although he has already endured more than most can comprehend, 2015 looks to be a busy year. Aside from his impending nuptials, Lewis also plans on attempting a world record breaking skydive, with the help of his new friends, the Pilgrim Bandits.
Images courtesy of Alex Lewis Trust Facebook page.
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