TAMPA, Florida (WFTS) — The Tampa Bay woman who lost both legs after COVID-19 complications continues to impress her friends and everyone she meets.
ABC Action News has shared her journey each step of the way.
In 2022, Claire Bridges lost both legs from COVID complications. She was hospitalized for nearly two months after contracting the virus.
“I remember the doctors coming in and telling me they had to amputate. I was like cool, awesome, thank you for saving my life. Can I please get bionic legs? I didn’t know what bionic legs were. I thought they were prosthetic legs,” said Bridges.
In June of 2022, she received her first set of prosthetic legs.
The community held numerous fundraisers to support Bridges. A nonprofit organization, 50 Legs, worked with Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates to get her prosthetic legs.
“I have my walking legs. I have my climbing legs and I just got fitted for my running blades. I’m super excited and I’m very grateful for Steve Chamberland and his organization, 50 Legs,” said Bridges.
Bridges was born with a congenital heart defect. The defect placed her at a greater risk of COVID complications. She had a faulty aortic valve which is the most important valve and it needed to be replaced.
“Going to the gym, I would pretty much want to fall asleep during a workout, and now since the surgery, I don’t experience that. It’s genuinely life-changing,” said Bridges.
Dr. Ismail El-Hamamsy, the Director of Aortic Surgery for the Mount Sinai Health System, performed heart surgery.
“We needed to replace the aortic valve, which we have four valves in the heart. The aortic valve is the most important of the four, so we needed to replace it, and to do so, instead of using an artificial valve, we borrow another valve in the heart, which is the pulmonary valve. The pulmonary valve is a mirror image of the normal aortic valve, ” said Dr. El-Hamamsy.
Prior to the surgery, Bridges said it was very difficult to complete certain tasks. After the surgery, Bridges said she cannot wait to run long distances.
“I want to get back to rock climbing which I’ll be doing tomorrow. I want to start running. I want to obviously continue modeling, go to school, go back to bartending a little bit because I love my Grassroots family and just get back to my normalcy, but I know it’s never going to be completely normal again,” said Bridges.
Bridges continues to impress her friends and everyone she meets.
“I feel privileged I had the opportunity to participate in Claire’s care and in that whole journey she’s been through in the last year and to be a small part of it, it was a real privilege,” said Dr. El-Hamamsy.
Bridges is overwhelmed with the support from the community.
“It was insane to see the entire community just rally behind me. I was just dumbfounded,” she said.
“Don’t go gently. That’s pretty much my whole thing. Just put up a fight, but also feel how you feel. Just don’t allow it to consume you if possible. Everybody’s different and you’re a lot stronger than you think you are.”
To learn more about Claire’s journey, visit: gofundme.com/f/care-for-claire4
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