The Given Limb Foundation is proud to have provided a grant for a prosthetic leg to Rebecca, a young woman who lost her leg to cancer. Members of the GLF board met with Rebecca (third from left in photo) to celebrate her new leg.
Rebecca is a young professional woman who lives in Yonkers and works as the Human Resources Clerk for Westchester Jewish Community Services. She was diagnosed at age five with neurofibromatosis, a condition that led to the death of her mother when Rebecca was only 11. At 18, Rebecca was diagnosed with a malignant nerve sheath tumor in her leg. She received an experimental radiation treatment that may have led to the development of another tumor years later. In 2011, after unsuccessful chemotherapy, Rebecca’s left leg was amputated above the knee.
But that was just the beginning of her challenges. As a 30-year old single woman, Rebecca longed to return to an active life. For more than 6 months after her surgery, as she waited for her amputation to heal enough to be fitted for a prosthetic leg, she could not return to her own house because it was not wheelchair accessible. Once she was ready for her prosthetic leg, she faced additional hurdles when she learned her insurer would only pay for a standard mechanical prosthetic device, which does not allow enough motion and support to climb stairs and perform other daily activities. Rebecca wanted a device with computerized knee joint (known as a C-leg), which would allow her to walk with a more normal gait and climb stairs. Such devices are routinely provided to amputees who are military personnel and Medicare patients, but not those with private insurance. The reason? The cost difference is huge: $65,000 for a C-leg vs. $34,000 for a standard device.
The Given Limb Foundation, based in Rye, NY, learned of Rebecca’s plight when a co-worker contacted the organization through its website. In spite of Rebecca’s efforts to get the insurer to pay for the C-leg, her insurer denied her request. She filed two appeals of her own, and her prosthetist (Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics) filed an “external” appeal, documented by letters of medical necessity from her oncologist, surgeon and rehab specialist, all to no avail.
The Given Limb worked with Hanger to pay for the C-leg. Rebecca received the leg in early 2012, and GLF held a small celebration in her office.