Bolivian woman walking again after getting care in Detroit - KMSP-TV

Bolivian woman walking again after getting medical care in Detroit

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Mari Luz walks after her leg amputation. Mari Luz walks after her leg amputation.
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DETROIT (WJBK) -

Bolivia in South America is filled with children and adults living in terrible poverty. This is a story of metro Detroiters making a difference in the life of one person and changing the world.

17 years ago, a cooking accident in her Bolivian hut left Mari Luz with a serious burn on her left foot. It was especially traumatic because she was born with spina bifida, which caused her right foot to be deformed.

"Since the burn occurred, she has not been able to walk right, left, right, left," said Dr. Kim Getzinger. "She was only able to step, hop and drag."

It was on a missionary trip to Bolivia where Doctors Kim and Jeff Getzinger first realized how badly Mari Luz needed help.

"She's had an infection for 17 years. The infection has eaten away several of the bones of her foot, so it can't possibly be used to walk on," said Dr. Christopher Lee, chief of Orthopedics at St. John Hospital.

In November, they wrangled through the red tape and Mari Luz made it metro Detroit. Surgeons at St. John Hospital had to amputate her lower left leg, and then Mari Luz had to learn how to walk again.

When she first started, we were told Mari Luz had trouble walking 25 feet with a walker. Now she can walk between 100 and 200 feet on crutches before needing to rest.

It has been a painstaking process filled with overcoming challenges, but for Mari Luz the world will never look the same.

"I'm very grateful for all the people who have helped me," she said.

Mari Luz went home to Bolivia on Father's Day where she will start a new life at the Keep the Faith Mission.

There are so many people that made this happen for her, including St. John Health, Wright and Filippis and all those involved with the mission.

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Those wishing to make a donation to the Mari Luz Arteaga Pone Education and Medical Fund can do so through the Keep the Faith Bolivia mission.  Their website is www.keepthefaithinbolivia.org.

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