Back in December, we brought you the story of Sargent Michael Frazier, the Marine who lost both legs when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. At that time, Sargent Frazier was heading to Miami (for free and on a private jet no less, courtesy of Veterans Airlift) to meet his fiancee’s family for the first time. It was an intense time for Sargent Frazier, who was getting used to his prosthetic limbs and figuring out how to deal with his badly damaged hand.
During his Veterans Airlift flight, Sargent Frazier told Stephanie and Erwin Cooper, his hosts for the flight, that although his hand appeared intact, it didn’t have any sensation at all, and wasn’t usable. Luckily enough, the Coopers happened to be friends with Dr. Thomas Brushart, a renowned expert on nerve repair and regeneration at Johns Hopkins, and helped Sargent Frazier snag an appointment the following month. The Coopers tagged along. As Stephanie Cooper remembers it, “After a long and careful examination, Dr. B told of all the problems and complications – too much scar tissue, too little of this, not enough of that, etc., but after a long and thoughtful pause, he said “… but this is what I can do for you… and proceeded, like a magician, to make a plan – move this muscle, splice this nerve ending, take this from here and move it there’…”
The eight-hour surgery took place on March 16 at Walter Reed. Just two months on, Sargent Frazier recovered nearly all the sensation in his hand. His fingers were once curled into a claw, but now he can bend each finger — and daily therapy means he’s making more progress every day. Therapy has also helped Frazier enough that he can walk on his prosthetic legs without the use of a cane. This spring, Frazier formally proposed to Monica Montes at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial — because he wanted to wait until he could bend on his prosthetic leg to ask her. Good news all around.
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