On August 6, we told the story of Firdavs,  a CCI Greenheart FLEX exchange student from Tajikistan, who has a prosthetic leg and was learning to ride a horse.  Firdavs, or Phil, is living in Montana with his host family, The Kranzler’s. His host mother, Joy, recently sent us this update on Phil.

Well, gosh, where do I start to tell you about the wonderful things that are happening with Phil. I made an appointment for him on Aug. 11th to see a prosthetist in Billings, named Jim Middleton.

Jim was clearly moved by Phil’s circumstances.  He spent many hours with him over two days casting and fitting him for a new prosthetic leg.  Mr. Middleton is an absolute master at what he does.  Everything he does is by hand.  He said that now days, most prosthetics are made from computer images, however, in his opinion, a computer will never be able to ‘feel’ how the prosthetic will work, and where it might be uncomfortable for the client.  He graciously allowed me to stay with Phil during the entire fitting, and, to take photographs.  There are many, many more than what you see here.

He was truly apalled at the device Phil is trying to drag around to use as a leg.  It’s massive, heavy and unyielding, and, causes him severe pain at times.  The new leg and foot will be as high-tech as any world class athlete could ever hope for.  When it’s completed and fitted, Middleton says Phil should be able to wear it for everything but swimming and bathing.  He will not have to take it off the minute he gets into the house because it’s hurting him so badly.  He has even told Phil that he will be able to run with it, something that he’s dreamed all his life of doing.  While he may not be winning any races, he will be running!

Both Phil and I very fondly refer to Mr. Middleton as “Dr. Jim” even though he is not a medical doctor.  He is a miracle worker just the same.  He is very, very well known in the world of prosthetics.  He was also the coach for the U.S. Olympic disabled ski team.

Phil is scheduled to return to Billings on Sept 10 and 11 to undergo the final fittings, and, to receive his new leg and foot.  Now, here is the absolutely stunning part.  This leg, with a very high-tech knee joint and titanium foot, would retail at $70,000, according to Mr. Middleton.  I just about keeled over when he told me that.  He is doing this absolutely free for Phil.  All his hours of consultation, fittings, hand building the actual leg, the knee and ankle joints, and the new foot…  all for not one penny.  He told me that if he can help make this world a better place for ‘one leg at a time’ then that was reward enough for him.  He has used his considerable contacts to obtain the knee, ankle and foot which he is incorporating into the leg.”