Quadruple amputee replaces 40 per cent of her body with plastic to hit the run way
A quadruple amputee has branded herself a human mannequin after replacing 40 per cent of her body with plastic.
Karen Crespo, 32, from Los Angeles, California, was diagnosed with a severe form of bacterial meningitis which left her fighting for her life.
The former nurse first blamed her flu like symptoms on being a common cold but when her health rapidly deteriorated, she was placed into a medically induced coma for 15 days.
Karen was given a 10 per cent chance of survival – her limbs had turned black, leaving doctors with no other choice but to amputate both of her arms and legs.
Miraculously Karen’s condition began to improve, and after a long and challenging recovery, she now wears her $180,000 prosthetics with pride.
Her body is 40 per cent plastic due to her new high tech limbs – and they have even enabled Karen to make history as the first quadruple amputee to walk the runway at New York fashion week.
Karen said: “When I first lost all my limbs I was devastated but I’ve since learnt to embrace my new appearance.
“I’m like a mannequin in a shop window, with 40 per cent of my body being plastic I’ve hit the New York runway and it was amazing.
“It all started with flu like symptoms but I didn’t think anything more of it.
“It wasn’t until my mum, Evelyn, 65, took me to hospital three days later that I was diagnosed with meningitis.
“When I came out of the coma I still had my limbs but they were as black as night – I had a tattoo on my leg and even that was no longer visible.
“When I saw myself for the first time I cried, I couldn’t believe this had happened to me.
“Even though I have struggled adjusting to my new life, my prosthetics have enabled me to do so much more than I could have hoped for.”
In 2011, Karen was diagnosed with meningococcemia, a severe form of bacterial meningitis, which effects the brain and spinal cord.
The deadly infection was so aggressive that Karen also lost her entire top lip that was later saved with reconstructive surgery, her entire nose, and part of her right ear which eventually grew back.
Karen added: “I also underwent extensive skin grafts on almost every part of her body.
“After five months in intensive care, I moved in with my mum, Eveyln, who had to leave her job to be my full time carer.
“Luckily I had medical insurance that covered the cost of my four prosthetics which totalled a staggering $180,000 (around £130,000).”
Karen had to wait a year until she could receive her new limbs as her scar tissue needed time to heal.
She said: “Adjusting to life with my new prosthetics hasn’t been easy, I was so independent before my illness.
“I am still afraid to walk to the grocery store by myself in case I suddenly need help.
“People don’t realise how heavy they are – they weigh nearly two stone.
“I only wear them at home when I need to, for example when I am doing my make-up.
“But even then everyday tasks will take twice as long, I have had to relearn how to do most things, even learning how to feed myself again.”
Before receiving her prosthetics Karen was left relying on others to dress her and even take her to the toilet as she couldn’t manage it alone.
And despite the daily struggles Karen still faces, she is forever grateful that her new limbs have given her independence back.
Her plastic prosthetics have also gave Karen a second chance of fulfilling her dreams.
Karen said: “Before my illness, if I wasn’t in my nurse’s uniform I would be in my heels.
“I have always been interested in fashion and to be given the opportunity to walk at New York fashion week was so amazing.
“I wanted to model in the hope of being the inspiration I didn’t have when I first became an amputee.
“It’s funny actually, I always tell my mom how I’m like a human mannequin now.”
Karen is still on medical leave from her job as a nurse but is looking to go back to work part time in the near future.
With the help of her prosthetics she is looking forward to regaining some of her independence.
Karen added: “I have my driving license and in the future I hope I can raise enough money to pay for a special modified car so I can start driving again.
“I have been doing some motivational speaking and this is something I would love to carry on with in the hope of helping others.”
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