Gloucester amputee seeks help getting prosthetic leg

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Sep 25, 2013 - 11:47 AM

Photo: Gloucester resident Andrea Martin is looking forward to the day when she gets a prosthesis and can walk once again. She hopes to receive some help paying for the prosthetic leg and for medical bills that she incurred when her left leg was amputated. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Gloucester resident Andrea Martin is looking forward to the day when she gets a prosthesis and can walk once again. She hopes to receive some help paying for the prosthetic leg and for medical bills that she incurred when her left leg was amputated. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Andrea Martin of Gloucester is looking for a little bit of help to get back on her feet, both literally and figuratively.

The 23-year-old part-time college student, who has a blood-thickening condition known as factor V Leiden, fell victim to the effects of a blood clot last June that eventually led to the loss of her left leg. Payments on her medical bills have fallen behind, she said, and she doesn’t have the funds to pay her share of the cost for a prosthetic leg so she can begin her life anew.

Andrea said she first noticed the problem one day at school when the lower half of her body started swelling. Later that day, her leg "went out completely" and she couldn’t walk. She was taken to a hospital by ambulance, eventually ending up at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, where her lower body continued to swell until she was carrying an extra 100 pounds of fluid.

There, Andrea was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, and a fasciotomy was performed to relieve the pressure in her leg. Doctors found a 6-7 inch blood clot in it. Andrea said she was transferred to a recovery center and that one day as she attempted to stand up using her walker, she fell and opened an artery in her leg. This caused rapid blood loss and a sudden loss in blood pressure to just 57/16. She had to have a blood transfusion.

The next morning, when the attendant took off the pressure wrap, she said, her leg was black with gangrene. She was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors told her that they might be able to save the leg, but she would probably need a wheelchair and possibly a walker for the rest of her life.