‘How I Led Amputees Up Mt Kilimanjaro’ by Mona Patel
Partial transcript from video on the BBC page:
Never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something.
You set your limits.
You set your limitations and never say never
View the video with the interview here:
Mona Patel lost her leg after being hit by a drunk driver. Now she has set up a foundation that supports other amputees.
On a spring day in 1990, Mona Patel was walking to class at Cal Poly University when a drunken driver slammed into her. She was 17.
“I flew up about 12 feet,” Patel said. “And then he pinned me between his car and a metal railing, and that’s what smashed my leg and my foot.”
Patel’s body, and future, were forever altered.
Weeks later, when Patel got out of the ICU, she underwent her first amputation. It was the start of seven years’ worth of surgeries in attempts to salvage the rest of her leg.
Patel went on to earn a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees, and became a social worker.
But along the way, as Patel continued to struggle physically with her disability, she also struggled to find a support group for amputees.
…Today, Patel’s nonprofit, the San Antonio Amputee Foundation, aims to help amputees rebuild their lives.
The group offers peer support, education and recreation opportunities, as well as financial assistance for basic home and car modifications and prosthetic limbs.
…Patel also leads health and fitness programs and sponsors amputees to participate in tennis tournaments and endurance climbs. In 2015, led by Patel, a group of amputees climbed to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
CNN: What was it that inspired you to help others going through similar struggles?
Mona Patel: Getting the news that you’re going to have to face an amputation is overwhelming. It’s scary. The questions are numerous. In 1997, I was getting ready for surgery number 21. I was already married by that time, and I thought to myself, “I don’t have children yet. If I elect to have my leg amputated, how difficult is pregnancy going to be? How difficult is it going to be to care for my newborns?”
I found a woman who was an above-the-knee amputee and had four children after her amputation, and she said that “I did everything on my one leg.” At her bedside, she had a little crib, a rocking chair, a refrigerator and a bottle warmer. And that is all I needed to hear. She put so much confidence and comfort in my heart. Now, when I’m able to provide peer support to an individual, it’s powerful. I’m able to lead by example. If I did it, there’s no reason why you can’t do it either.