‘Extremely difficult’: Ontario man homeless after leg amputation

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Ontario man homeless after leg amputated
WATCH: After more than five decades in the workforce, an Ontario man is homeless following an unexpected leg amputation. He says the province will not cover the costs of a prosthetic leg, leaving him unable to return to work. Brittany Rosen has more on his desperate plea for help. – Jun 20, 2023

Thomas Mohr has watched his life snowball into devastation over the last two years.

First, it was an accident that landed him in the hospital. Next, his leg was amputated after being infected with sepsis from that accident.

Finally, he lost his home and is unable to return to work because the province refuses to cover the cost of a prosthetic leg.

From working as a carpenter and business owner for 52 years, the 69-year-old now lives in his broken-down Dodge pickup truck in an Oakville shopping plaza. He’s been there for 210 days. Mohr eats, sleeps and uses the washroom inside of his vehicle. When the parking lot empties out at dusk, he cleans himself with baby wipes.

“It’s extremely inventive and extremely difficult,” Mohr said.

“In the hospital, after the (amputation) surgery, you couldn’t move around either. And there were ways you can take care of yourself. I’ve just adapted that to this living condition.”

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Mohr says in the middle of winter in January 2022, he slipped on a piece of ice outside of his then-home in Bancroft, Ont. Everything was fine until he began to develop pain in his leg to the point where it became unbearable to walk. Undergoing amputation on his leg was the only way he would be able to stay alive due to the sepsis that had infected his lower body.

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But just when things couldn’t get any worse after losing his leg, he lost his home.

“When I left the hospital, I came out and my property up north, it had been taken through a sheriff’s seizure to settle a family debt.”

Mohr is eager to return to work, but he was told he would not be able to get a prosthetic leg covered by the province due to the unique size and shape of the limb. It is wider at the base and tapers towards the knee. The 69-year-old requires a custom prosthetic, which he says is only available in the U.S. It has a price tag of roughly C$80,000.

“I was offered another operation to cut more of my leg,” he said, adding it wasn’t an alternative he felt comfortable with.

“I already went through this, I’m not going to go through that.”

Drew Cumpson, an advocate with the Ontario Health Coalition, says Mohr’s story is a prime example of how Ontario’s health system is failing some residents.

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“Customization is a vital part of any assisted device… You can’t have a ‘one size fits all.’ We have so many different people in this world today. No two people are the same,” Cumpson said.

“People are falling through the cracks everyday and they’re not getting the care they need in a timely manner.”

The province did not respond to Global News’ request for comment. However, on its website it lists two types of prosthetic limbs that are 75 per cent covered through the Assistive Devices Program.

But Mohr was told he doesn’t qualify.

His loved ones are currently raising money for the customized U.S. prosthetic, a working vehicle and a place where he can get back on his feet.

Despite a devastating situation, Mohr remains optimistic things will eventually take a turn for the better.

“I wasn’t put on this planet to sit in a truck. I’ve contributed quite a bit and I still have a lot of contribution to give.”

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