Talk about a positive attitude.
When 32-year-old Braden Leonard, a Newporter and firefighter in Johnston, lost his hand after contracting a flesh-eating disease, he told his friends "it's only a hand."
It started last month innocuously, with a prick on his hand. He didn't think anything of it, nor did he imagine he'd soon be facing life without the use of one of his hands.
He was biking in Newport's Ballard Park on June 5 when he fell.
The next morning, he woke up with inflammation, a fever and was weak.
He posted on Facebook and his friends convinced him to go to the emergency room.
It was sound advice. Doctors soon had diagnosed his infection. It was Necrotizing fasciitis, also known as "flesh eating disease," which can be fatal as it spreads through the body and destroys soft tissue.
To stop the spread of the infection and save his life, doctors removed his right hand. They estimated his chance of survival at 30 percent. What doctors didn't factor in is their stalwart patient's will-to-live is non-negotiable.
Braden successfully fought the infection, but the battle was tough. The firefighter not only lost his hand, but also left the hospital with visibly reduced muscle mass and weakened lungs and organs.
The day he returned home, he began planning his recovery, telling his friends that it's just a hand -- and he'll be fine..
In the near future, Braden hopes to use and design prosthetics that will allow him to continue mountain biking, golfing, sailing and most importantly, to serve as a fire fighter.
To kick-start his recovery, friends have organized a concert dinner fundraiser to take place on July 30, at Sandywoods, located at 43 Muse Way, Tiverton, as part of Newport BridgeFest. More details are available on Facebook.com/TEAMbraden.strong
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