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Health Beat: Bionic woman: Against all odds

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 16 2013 10:50:08 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 17 2013 04:48:46 PM CDT

Imagine losing your child and all four of your limbs, in one night. One woman had to face this reality head on.

DEER PARK, N.Y. -

Imagine losing your child and all four of your limbs, in one night.  One woman had to face this reality head on. 

Shannon Smith was six months pregnant with her second child when something went wrong.

"I wasn’t feeling that well that morning. So, I went to the hospital and was told that I would have to have an emergency C-section," Smith said.

During the C-section, she developed sepsis and a condition that caused blood clots, loss of circulation and organ failure.

"I developed clots all throughout my body, which stopped the circulation to my limbs," Smith said.

She slipped into a coma. Three weeks later, she woke up to learn she’d lost her baby and her limbs would need to be amputated. 

"I remember thinking, 'How did this happen?'" Smith said.

Seventeen surgeries and 11 months later, Smith became one of the first people to get four nerve activated prosthetics that all work together to keep her going. 

"There’s basically a computer in that knee that is monitoring every step she takes," said Christopher Berger, clinical director, East Coast Orthotic & Prosthetic Corp.

The hi-tech limbs have given her a new lease on life and a new nickname, the "Bionic Woman."

"I have seen her go from being in a wheelchair pretty much full time, to being able to put her limbs on, to being able to walk," Berger said.

Smith enjoys the independence her limbs have given her.

"My son, my family, and God, that's what keeps me going," Smith said.

Today, the "Bionic Woman" is adjusting to her new normal life and looking forward to taking her next steps toward independence.  

The microprocessor in Smith's knee understands her needs based on ground reaction forces. 

If you would like to donate money to Smith's medical fund, go to her website.

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