Mom of three learning new way of life after amputation surgery

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on May 14, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Updated Saturday, May 15 at 12:23 PM

DALLAS - It's a position no husband ever wants to find himself in: choosing between letting your wife die or amputating all of her arms and legs.    

WFAA first reported about Katy Hayes Thursday night. After giving birth to her daughter, a serious strep infection set in. While unconscious, the common Group A strep infection ate away at her body. Her husband, Al Hayes, had to make the decision to have surgeons amputate her arms and legs to save her life.

"I decided that I loved her so much that the risk was worth it," Mr. Hayes said.

While the surgery was a success, the now quadruple amputee mom of three will have to relearn the basics in life through prosthetics custom designed for her body.

"The hands and feet aren't what make her a great mom," said Al Hayes, Katy's husband. "It's the love and caring and worrying about what they're eating and being emotionally there for them."

"I'm going to have to buy some good arms and legs," Mrs. Hayes said. "I was a massage therapist and all my clients are wishing I could come back and work on them. So, I'm working on it."

But, buying those arms and legs will be pricey. Arms can cost $7,000 to $70,000 each. The legs she needs could cost anywhere from $11,000 to $60,000 each.

Laura Husfeld knows on both a personal and professional level the struggles Hayes is about to encounter. She lost her foot at 13.

"You're never going to be just like you are before," she said. "Close, but it's never exactly."

Husfeld works with Hedgecock Artificial Limb Company to find the perfect fit for patients. Hayes can get limbs that allow her to do everything from writing and running. But, the true success comes in the education and hard work it takes to regain her physical abilities.

"It's a lot of her determination if its going to be successful or not," Husfeld said.

That's one thing Hayes said she isn't worried about.

"It's a complete miracle that I'm alive," she said. "So, I'm so grateful. I wouldn't be here for my kids if they wouldn't have taken my arms and legs."

Insurance does not cover the full cost of prosthetics, and the artificial limb company says it's very rare to see a quadruple amputee. In 100 years in North Texas, they have only worked with four.

E-mail: jstjames@wfaa.com

 

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