11-year-old Amanda Merrell of Damascus, Maryland, likes being active, real active.
Amanda is on a girls soccer team.
“She’s one of the fastest runners on the team. She also scores a lot of goals. In fact, she had one of the best seasons recently,” said Suzanne Merrell, Amanda’s proud mom.
Amanda also swims.
“She’s competed against able bodied kids and she was winning all of her heats,” said Suzanne.
The 11-year-old also plays basketball and lacrosse.
“There’s nothing that she can’t do. If we tell her, she can’t, she’ll look at you like, ‘What? Yes I can.’”
Amanda is having fun and she’s happy. You’d never guess from all of her energy and drive for life that she has a prosthetic leg.
She’s had a prosthesis since she was two-and–a-half years old.
“We found out she had cancer, EWING SARCOMA, bone cancer. Doctors told us she would go through six rounds of chemotherapy, they’d have to amputate her left leg, and then go through eight more rounds of chemo,” said Suzanne.
“She is a miracle to be here. There’s no way she should be here today.”
When doctors amputated her daughter’s leg, Suzanne said “there was no one to turn to, no one in Maryland had any idea of how to create a prosthetic leg for a little one.”
That was true until the Merrell family met Dennis Haun when Amanda was three years old. Dennis works for Metro Prosthetics, which has been helping people regain independence since 1977.
“Prior to meeting Dennis, Amanda had a prosthetic that was just horrible.”
Haun, who has created many custom prosthetics for children, worked with Amanda to create a prosthetic leg that allows Amanda to be, well, a kid. And about four years ago, he crafted a “J leg, like blade runner,” Suzanne said. “Since then, she’s never taken that leg off. She runs she jumps in the waves, in the ocean. It’s incredible.”
“The best feeling for me is the moment the patient realizes that they are going to regain independence. Helping a patient take the next step in recovery is what I love the most!,” said Haun.
Living with a prosthesis isn’t easy. Just ask Amanda.
“It’s sort of challenging on stairs and in big crowds.”
But life is a bit easier thanks to Haun, and the Merrells are grateful for his dedication.
“He’s always up on the latest stuff, he’s always trying new things with her. He’s just made her life a little easier to just be a kid and do everything a kid should be able to do,” said Suzanne.
“I think he’s awesome because he always helps me. Dennis is like family,” said Amanda.
Amanda’s pretty awesome too.