October 12, 2013 1:28 am

Quadruple amputee receives generous gift from community

A quadruple amputee and single father of one got a wish granted today, which he thought would never happen – the ability to hold his son’s hand again.

Moses Chan, who lost both his feet and hands due to a sudden illness in 2011, tried out his new myoelectric prosthetic arm, which has five articulating fingers and a rotating wrist. It’s a small but significant gain for the 38-year-old Chan, who for almost two years has been re-learning how to do everything from how to cook to taking care of his six-year-old son, Myles.

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“Before I thought the world was a very selfish place but seeing how this was made possible by the generosity of so many people,” Chan explains.

“I think the community that we live in is actually quite wonderful and there’s a lot of hope out there.”

The community Chan refers to includes two churches, Global BC viewers and the Richmond Lions Club, who helped raise more than $100,000 for the arm prosthesis and annual maintenance costs.

Getting this prosthetic and a little piece of his life back, is something Chan says he’s been about for a long time.

During Christmas in 2011, for reasons that still not clear to doctors, Chan contracted a strain of streptococcus bacterium, which is considered the most dangerous. After going to emergency and eventually sent home, Chan collapsed the following day and returned to hospital.

At the time doctors performed exploratory surgery and he eventually developed deadly blood poisoning and was in a coma for close to two weeks. The drugs doctors used to save his life, concentrated his blood from his vital organs, depriving his extremities of blood and in turn, allowing his limbs to die while still attached to his body.

Doctors were left with no other options other than to amputate his blackened hands and feet.

Chan found getting comfortable with his “new body” and in particular, his two prosthetic hooks, a very steep learning curve. He also worried about what kind of father he would be to his son.

Along with gaining the ability to do tasks he hasn’t been able to do in almost two year and being able to hold his son’s hand with his new prosthetic limb, Chan says he’s looking forward to the change it will bring to the interaction he has with people.

“I found with my hooks, people would stare at my hooks all the time, they wouldn’t be looking at me,” Chan says. “I’m hoping that people will feel more natural communicating with me now. “

Considering the journey Chan has been on to get to the point of his first try with the myoelectric arm, it’s hard to believe that he’s the only one in the room at Award Prosthetics in Burnaby with dry eyes.

“The things that we make are important, the attitude of the person is a lot more important,” says Tony van der Waarde, Award Prosthetics Inc.

“And that’s not typical of something we see a lot.”

After the inaugural use and fine tuning of his more natural prosthetic, Chan said he was going to go home and ask his son to “come here and hold my hand.”

~ with files from Geoff Hastings

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