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When Amputee Peer Support Officers Darren Wyer and Sid Dyson casually stride into the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) they bring hope to people during a scary time in their lives—when they’re about to have a lower limb removed.
Darren, Amputee and Families Support Group Queensland President, said people’s biggest fear before surgery was that they would spend the rest of their lives in a wheelchair.
“Naturally, everyone has a lot of anxiety about a surgery that is going to change their life,” he said.
“Talking to someone who knows what you’re going through provides people with priceless comfort.
“I just walk in and say don’t worry it’s not all over. Once you have your surgery you work at your rehab and recovery, and with the right prosthetics, you’ll be able to get back to doing the things you love.”
Darren, who had his right leg amputated due to a vascular (blood flow) disease, said more than 8,000 lower limb amputations were performed each year in Australia.
The most common cause was type 2 diabetes, but other causes included cancer, vascular disease, trauma accidents, infection and birth deficiencies.
This National Amputee Awareness Week (4–11 October), Darren said it was important to reduce the stigma associated with losing a limb.
“With things like type 2 diabetes or vascular issues caused by smoking, there’s a lot of self-hate and social stigma,” he said.
“But regardless of the cause of amputation no individual should go through the trauma of limb loss alone.
“Everyone should have access to people who understand their circumstances, can arrange connections and provide up-to-date information on support services such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme.”
Amputee and Families Support Group Queensland has visited PAH patients and their families for more than 35 years, offering support, guidance, comfort and friendship.