Life is full of challenges. And no one can testify to that better than Charity.
At 25 years old, Charity faced an obstacle greater than most could imagine
- the amputation of both arms below the elbow and both legs below the knee following
a near fatal bout with meningitis
and septicemia - a poisoning of the blood due to endotoxins released by the
Once an active aerobics instructor, Charity struggled to breathe and sit up in bed. Her body, ravished by the disease, was weak and changed forever. The disease that took her arms and legs, had now claimed her kidneys. To salvage kidney function, Charity needed a transplant or faced being on dialysis for the rest of her life.
As the challenges mounted, Charity's goal was far greater than to simply live - she wanted to reclaim her life and her independence.
In January 2002, just two months after her she was hospitalized with meningitis, Charity was transferred to the University of Michigan Health System - one of only a few centers in the country able to provide a quadruple amputee like Charity with the occupational and physical therapy needed to train her how to function and regain the independence she so desperately desired.
Her occupational therapists' first goals included teaching Charity many activities others may take for granted: dressing, eating and grooming with minimal assistance. Then, following weeks of therapy, came the prosthetics - specially designed for Charity's arms and legs by U-M orthotic and prosthetic experts.
She then began weeks of rehabilitation to relearn how to do things using her new arms and legs, although she now did them in slightly different ways. It would be a long and arduous road, and Charity was up to the test.
But Charity's battle was far from over. She still needed a new kidney. Fortunately, Charity's courageous sister Beverlee was a match. On Halloween 2002, just five days after her 26th birthday, Charity's sister donated her kidney at U-M. It was a gift that would save Charity's life and save her from a lifetime of dialysis.
Today Charity is doing many of the things she did before her illness. With the help of University of Michigan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation therapists, she has learned to do things like vacuum, wash dishes, drive a car and put on her makeup.
Charity is even planning on taking up aerobic instruction again. And while there are still moments of awkwardness, one thing Charity has come to know is that love and support from family and friends have made the biggest impact in moving forward.