After three years, 12 rounds of surgery and other therapies, his leg was amputated above the knee because of constant pain and life-threatening infection. Michael, who served in Afghanistan, was given a state-of-the art prosthetic leg by the military but is unable to wear it.
The 36-year-old suffers from chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS) that causes waves of agonising pain even at the slightest touch to his residual limb. This makes it impossible to wear the artificial socket that sits over his stump and clips onto the prosthetic limb. For the last two years, Michael has got around on one leg with crutches. Now, desperate to walk again, he is raising £72,000 to go to Australia for a bone-implanted prosthetic which is not available on the NHS.
The former soldier is unable to wear the artificial socket not only because it hurts to do so but because it is physically impossible. Due to pain, his stump sweats profusely and changes size, so it no longer fits tightly into the socket and the artificial leg falls off when he tries to walk.
“The loose-fitting socket causes rubbing and pressure points, resulting in infected sores over my stump, leading to further surgeries and potential further limb loss,” said Michael who has had plastic surgery to repair skin on his stump damaged by infection and most recently, to move a neuroma, or collection of nerve tissue which aggravated pain caused by pressure from the socket.
In Australia, Michael could benefit from an innovative procedure called osseointegration. This involves implanting a titanium rod in the bone which protrudes through the patient’s remaining leg or stump. An adaptor is fitted onto the implant and then attached to the artificial limb.
There is no need to wear a socket and it ensures a good fit with greater stability and control. Michael will finally be able use his high-tech leg to walk again. The surgery will be carried out by Sydney-based prosthetic expert, Dr Mumjed Al Muderis, who has performed the procedure on more than 250 patients, including four with CRPS, the same condition as Michael, who is aware of the risks. The fundraising campaign, backed by Woundcare4heroes, would pay for the operation and six-weeks rehabilitation in Australia. Michael, who since leaving the military has always worked, will cover the cost of the flights.
“I had my amputation in August 2015 and now it’s more than two years later and I haven’t been able to wear my prosthetic leg. It’s like having a Ferrari and not being able to drive it. I need this procedure so I can get my life back.
“I don’t want to have this surgery and sit at home. I have 30 years of working life ahead of me and I hope to do amazing things in my work and personal life with the ability to walk freely and be independent.”
Military surgeon, Lt Col Steve Jeffery, based at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) in Birmingham has been pivotal to Michael’s surgical and ongoing care over the past three years. If donations to his Walk Again Appeal exceed the £72,000 target, Michael wishes any excess funds to go towards a new CO2 laser head for the RCDM surgical unit to support other veterans with scar management problems and to WC4H to help fellow ex-military men and women with their ongoing care.
Click here to support Michael's campaign on Just Giving