Patient Story: Danny’s Journey

In August 2018, “Danny’s” life took an unexpected turn when a motorcycle accident resulted in the loss of his leg above the knee at the young age of 20. Despite facing such a daunting challenge, Danny’s resilience and determination have been nothing short of remarkable.

The Shirlington Employment and Education Center (SEEC), a local organization that helps day laborers find employment, had been attempting to assist Danny in repairing his prosthetic leg – which had become ill-fitting and painful to the point that he had given up on wearing it in favor of crutches. Unable to find an affordable prosthetic clinic, SEEC referred Danny to AFC where he was seen promptly by Dr. Felasfa Wodajo, a volunteer orthopedic oncologist/surgeon. Dr. Wodajo quickly joined Danny’s care team to assess what would be involved in fixing the existing prosthesis, but ultimately referred Danny to his colleague John Hattingh, a skilled prosthetist, who provided him with a brand-new prosthetic leg.

During a follow-up appointment to assess Danny’s adjustment to his new prosthesis, Hattingh surprised Danny by offering him a custom-made running blade, a curved-shaped prosthetic limb made of carbon fiber used by amputee runners. This gesture left Danny speechless: he had shared during a prior appointment that he used to be a runner, and Hattingh’s gift inspired him to sign up and begin training for his first marathon scheduled for the fall in DC.

But Danny’s journey didn’t end with acquiring his new prostheses. Recognizing the importance of mobility in Danny’s life, AFC’s staff team, including our Community Resource Navigator Emely Marchena and Family Nurse Practitioner Terry McManus, began assisting him in obtaining a driver’s license. Through their efforts and connections with the Driver Rehabilitation Center of Excellence (DRCE), an organization Terry is himself familiar with as a person living with paraplegia, Danny received a generous discount on the necessary evaluation and training to safely operate a vehicle – he passed his DMV road test in April.

Within just a couple of weeks of trading in his crutches for a new prosthetic leg, Danny secured a job in a local restaurant. Previously, every opportunity seemed to vanish when employers tried to envision him working on crutches. With his newfound independence, Danny is not only able to work but also live a life of freedom and empowerment.

Story from our 2024 Spring Newsletter. Read more about AFC’s commitment to ethical storytelling here.