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Christian Calamuci

Staten Island, NY
  • Blount's Disease

I am 17-years-old, born in Soweto, South Africa, abandoned at birth, and adopted by my amazing mom when I was six-years-old. I was diagnosed with many lower limb problems, including arthrogryposis, Blounts disease, congenital abnormalities of my knees, bilateral calcaneus valgus, mild scoliosis and a possible unerupted L5/S1 myomeningocele. To me, all this meant was that my knees were displaced, and didn't bend. I had severe tibial bowing, and I walked on the sides of my feet. I had no ankle flexion either.

When I first came to this country, I was fitted with many different types of braces and had several surgeries to try and correct some of these leg problems. After my second surgery at about age 7, I asked my doctor why he couldn't just amputate my legs and give me fake ones. I was just talking. I had no idea it was something they could do. I was tired of the pain and tired of being in a wheelchair. Mom took me to see the top orthopedic doctors all over the country and amazingly they all told me what I was secretly wishing for. BILATERAL AMPUTATIONS when my growth plates closed. Well, the growth plates closed when I was 13 leaving me at 4'5" tall and when I asked again about amputations I was told, "Come back when you're 16".

During that time, mom did her research, spoke to many parents of children with this condition and was finally referred to Dr. Daniel Green, who had me do hundreds of CT scans, MRI's, 3D and 4D imaging, etc. and finally said, "Hey buddy, I think the best way to go for you, to give you a functionally independent life and get you out of a wheelchair, is to do bilateral above knee amputations."

Over the next 18 months, I was seen by every doctor for every body part that a person has. I had to be in tip-top shape and finally, FINALLY, on July 13, 2016 I had bilateral knee disarticulation amputations. My knees were actually dislocated from my femurs and my entire lower legs were removed without cutting any bone or muscles. I had minimal surgical site pain but after a week that was gone also. I have no "phantom limb" pain.

On July 19, I was transferred to a rehab facility where I receive between 4-6 hours of strength training and gait training seven days a week! I received my safety legs within a month and the first time I stood up in them everyone in the therapy room cried. Mom most of all. I was standing tall and proud and went from 4'5" tall to 5'7" tall in 3.5 seconds! and I started walking with a walker. One month after that I received my micro processor, bionic, self correcting RHEO-X knees. I now can go up and down stairs, walk around the gym three times and ride a recumbent bicycle. I also returned to school on September 26th. I Attend my four main courses from 8am until noon, and then go back to rehab where I will be for a few more months until I can walk safely with just a cane. I have maintained my honor roll status and still am a member of JROTC/Army.

Everyone calls me their hero. They all think I am amazing. Actually, I am just Christian, getting ready to start looking at colleges, getting rid of my wheelchair and standing on my own and walking across the stage to receive my HS diploma. That is my biggest dream. That and becoming a first time uncle in March!