Wounded veteran saved by South Florida surgeons

MIAMI (WSVN) - South Florida surgeons came together to help a soldier who was severely injured after he tried to save another soldier’s life.

War veteran Anthony Ameen lost his left leg and severely injured his right leg while serving as a U.S. Navy Hospital corpsman in July 2008.

“I was running to save a Marine’s life. He lost his airway, and in the midst of running to save his life, I ended up stepping on an IED,” said Ameen.

Unfortunately, the Marine he tried to rescue did not survive, and Ameen’s right leg was left with a gaping hole. The veteran was told he was at risk of losing that leg as well.

“I remember leaving that appointment upset because my prosthetist actually said that, ‘If you don’t get that wound taken care of, you have a chance of losing it at one point,'” he said.

“He had a chronically infected tibia, and that, over time, can turn into a lot of really bad things, including infections that travel to other parts of the body,” said Dr. Charles Jordan, a surgeon at Baptist Health.

Dozens of surgeries later, Ameen, beside his wife Stephanie, on Monday, reflected on a life-changing phone call.

“It’s amazing how God works, because on the way home I got a call from Carol to fix the hole,” he said.

Carol Novak, founding board member for Restoring Heroes, offered Ameen, a Phoenix native, the opportunity to come to South Florida so that surgeons from Baptist Health could fix an infected wound in his leg.

“It’s a value of Restoring Heroes that selfless sacrifice should be met without standing medical care and support,” said Novak.

Not only did the surgeons heal Ameen’s wound; they also brought back his self-confidence.

“Sitting next to, let’s say, Dr. Jill right now and wondering if she smells my leg, that is something that I lived with for five years,” said Ameen. “Not wearing shorts because, I’m very proud of the prosthetic leg, but it was the wound that I was always trying to hide, not the prosthetic.”

After surgery at Baptist Hospital, June 12, Ameen had nothing to hide. Once the infection was drained, surgeons got to work.

“I worked with the team that included Dr. Jaime Flores and Dr. Joel Levin, and we took tissue from his outside thigh and brought it with microsurgery, put enough soft tissue coverage over that bony area to bring in that blood supply to allow it to heal,” said Baptist Health surgeon Dr. Joshua Lampert.

Ameen will undergo another procedure on Tuesday to remove an implant. He can now live a normal life with his four children and focus on his nonprofit organization, Wings for Warriors, which supports combat-wounded military service members.

“I’m living for [the Marine] and others that didn’t come home,” said Ameen. “That’s one of the reasons why I started my organization, Wings for Warriors, and one of the reasons why I want to support Restoring Heroes and Baptist Health … There’s a lot of veterans like myself and like others that are going to be going through the same challenges.”

Ameen plans to return to his home in Phoenix with his family, Wednesday, after his surgery.

For more information on Restoring Heroes, click here.

And for more information on Wings for Warriors, click here.

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