DeKalb teen's dream-come-true: new high-tech leg helps her walk

DeKalb teen's dream-come-true: new high-tech leg helps her walk effortlessly

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In a lot of ways, Jasmine Holliday is a pretty typical 15-year old, hanging out in her Ellenwood bedroom with her pocket pit bull terrier and best friend Coco. Holliday says, "She follows me everywhere, she sleeps right here on her spot."

But Jasmine has had to grow up quickly, as a double amputee. Her mom Tessa Anderson says, “The falls were tough, the looks were tough, the stares. The bullying."

It's been this way since the beginning. Anderson says, “She was little. She was itty-bitty. And she was just perfect. But (from) the waist down, we had a lot of issues."

Jasmine was born with severe limb deficiencies, both legs so misshapen, her feet twisted upwards.

Tessa Anderson brought her newborn to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, where physical therapist Colleen Coulter broke the news. Anderson says, “She was six weeks old, and Colleen kneeled down. We took her clothes off, her dad and I. And she looked at her and said, 'In order for her to have the best quality of life, she needs to have her legs amputated.'"

A few months later, surgeons removed Jasmine's right leg above the knee, her left just below it. She’s endured 14 surgeries.

Six in her first five years. Anderson says, “It was tough, it was not an easy run."

But, Jasmine pushed on. Her mom says, "She crawls to the bathroom every day, she puts those legs on, and she's out that door, just like you and I. Her aura is just, what God took from her in legs, he gave her in spirit. She just simply... She makes you walk a little stronger."

And from here on out, Jasmine will walk a little stronger. With our camera recording, Jasmine took her first wobbly steps on her new high-tech "C-Leg." With Colleen Coulter, now head of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Limb Deficiency Program, guiding her - showing her how to lift her knee - prosthetist Brian Giavendoni followed along with a laptop: calibrating the microprocessor that will controls her leg. The C-Leg's sensors will recognize and respond - as Jasmine lifts her leg and steps.

Coulter says, “The C-leg offers sort of stumble control. So she won't have that fear of falling. It offers her more control of the knee as it moves and kicks. It offers more stance control as she puts her weight on it, it won't buckle." Jasmine says, “Things won't be as hard for me anymore, I won't have to work as hard to do everything."

Ramps have always been tough. But not now, with this new leg, they’re not. Watching, and crying, Tessa Anderson says, "I mean, that's a big deal. She can't go down stairs one at a time. She cannot. It is one step, one step, one step. So to see her even glide. I don't think we thought it would come our way."

Jasmine says, "I am going to be happy because I won't be so clumsy. I won't be falling. I can stand on one leg, I can hop on one leg!"

Coulter, who has been with Jasmine since the beginning of her treatment at Children’s, pushes the teen to push herself on this new leg. At times, Jasmine cried, as she tried to adjust to this new way of walking. Coulter says "It took a little bit of getting frustrated and the crying and the tears. And then, boom, you saw it in her brain: she got it. It was exciting."

It's been a long, hard road, but Jasmine Holliday is just getting started. Smiling, she says, “I think it means big things, big changes."

Jasmine is a double amputee, but has only one C-Leg, which is designed for above-the-knee amputees. She still has more practice to do with her new leg. She’s looking forward to being able to climb stairs without having to work so hard. And one day, Jasmine says, she’d like to be the first double-amputee supermodel.

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