Wednesday, December 17, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

New leg, and new outlook

By
February 24, 2011 |

FAIRFIELD — When Samson Ngutwa, 37, met certified prosthetist orthoticist Michael Bright, the Fairfield practitioner could see bone peeking through the raw and irritated skin on the side of Ngutwa’s left knee.

The prosthetic leg that Ngutwa had purchased in his native country of Malawi was rubbing the area raw at the spot on his upper leg, which was amputated at the knee after a bus accident in 1999.

Ngutwa, a UC Davis Humphrey Fellowship Program scholar, is devoted to finding ways to turn the farming in his predominantly agricultural country into a profitable and sustainable enterprise.

However, after arriving in Davis in September 2010, Ngutwa’s left leg became a painful and sometimes debilitating obstacle to his participation in the program.

His focus on agriculture means he gets involved in field work — literally.

The walking taxed him, and at times, Ngutwa said, prevented him from joining his fellow scholars for site visits.

After hearing about Ngutwa’s situation through another patient, Bright decided to outfit him with a new leg that would allow him to become nearly as mobile as he had been before the accident.

“Samson’s from a different place, but our background isn’t actually that different. He’s a student, I’ve been a student. He has a family, young kids and I do, too,” said Bright, who runs the Fairfield office of North Bay Prosthetics & Orthotics. “It was nice to have the opportunity to help someone out and Samson’s just a really nice young man.”

Ngutwa’s original prosthetic was held up by a leather belt and had a simplistic knee joint that made walking a dicey proposition.

Compensating for the lack of stability, Ngutwa adopted an awkward gait in which he swung his leg out in a half-circle to slow his stride and better defend against falling, which occurred frequently, he said.

Working with a company that supplies most of the parts his clinic uses, Bright fashioned a new leg for Ngutwa that uses vacuum suction to attach the prosthetic to his stump and features a more maneuverable knee that allows him to walk without fear of falling.

The new prosthetic makes walking feel almost like it did before the accident, Ngutwa said.

“It’s like starting all over again,” he said. “I have no pain whatsoever. It’s wonderful.”

It’s possible that within a week or two, he may be able to walk without a cane for the first time in years, Ngutwa said.

“It has been amazing for me,” he said. “I’m more stable than ever before.”

The other prosthetic not only caused him pain, it also made him constantly worried and unable to concentrate on his studies, Ngutwa said.

“I wish I had this since the beginning of the program,” he said. “It would have been different.”

When he returns to Malawi, Ngutwa said he plans to use what he learned in Davis and the connections he made in the U.S. to help the poorest people in his country.

“It will require a lot of walking in the villages, you know. … I think (the prosthetic) will be even more useful in Malawi than here,” he said. “I think it’s something which will help me for many, many years.”

Ngutwa said he is overwhelmingly grateful to Bright and others who contributed to getting him a new leg at no cost. He said he would not have been able to afford one on his own and his insurance would not pay the cost for a new prosthetic because his amputation is considered a pre-existing condition.

“It’s something which has made my life very comfortable now,” he said. “I am looking forward to all these projects because I can be more active now.”

— Reach Sarah de Crescenzo at sarahdc@dailyrepublic.net.

Comments

comments

Sarah de Crescenzo

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Supervisors remove Saylor from First 5 Yolo Commission

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

     
    GPAS and test scores up for UCD’s newest undergrads

    By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A1

     
    Million Cat Challenge aims to rescue shelter felines

    By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Everest visit fulfills judge’s lifelong dream

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    U.S., Cuba seek to normalize relations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Water officials fret over rain’s effects

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Bob Dunning: Not enough hours in the month

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Fatal Capay crash leads to driver’s arrest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Yolo Crisis Nursery in full swing

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Creative women share food, friendship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Beer and film tour boosts bike group’s coffers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Overeaters get support at meetings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Fibro Friends will update their journals

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Input sought on county’s facility needs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Have coffee with the mayor on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Stockings brighten holidays for special kids

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Evening tai chi classes start Jan. 6

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Name Droppers: Law prof earns peace prize for nonfiction

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Community menorah lighting set Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Latest immunization data shows little improvement locally

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A5

    School board will vote on repairs, new portables

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A6

     
    Study: National monument could boost local economy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Round up at the registers for Patwin

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Parent/toddler art and music program offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Libraries will be closed around the holidays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Cloudy — yet safe — tap water adds to negative health effects

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Come Worship with Us

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Forum

    This ought to teach her love

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Language failed me that night, but not now

    By New York Times News Service | From Page: A8

    Steve Sack cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A8

     
    Grand jury function clarified

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Defying Western academic norms

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    Boycotters are our future profs

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

    Many thanks to The Avid Reader

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

     
    UCD reveals a challenging softball schedule

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Tumey talks about state of Aggie athletics, where they’re headed

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis gets Rio Linda as Curry Invitational starts Thursday

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Westbrook, Durant lead Thunder past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Former Aggie Descalso inks deal with Colorado

    By Staff and wire reports | From Page: B8

    .

    Features

    Some vegetables just can’t be beet

    By Julie Cross | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6