Quadruple Amputee Finds New Meaning for Valentine's Day

New Orleans elementary school principal and quadruple amputee Merlyna Adams is celebrating Valentine's Day this year wearing a sparkling engagement ring on her new prosthetic hand.  Soon, "valentine" will mean more than a heart shaped card or box of candy---it will be Merlyna's last name when she marries Tory Valentine in a ceremony planned for April 16, 2011.

Merlyna lost both her hands and her legs below the knee after a kidney stone led to septic shock, organ failure and a lengthy coma. All four extremities turned black and became as hard as cement due to a lack of blood flow. Doctors recommended she keep her “dead” hands and feet on her body for nine months while undergoing extensive, painful wound care that would save as much of her limbs as possible.

Merlyna’s devastating loss was made more bearable by the kind of authentic love that is rarely seen. Her boyfriend, Tory Valentine, remained by her side throughout the ordeal, sleeping in her hospital room, learning to do her wound care, and becoming her personal makeup and hair stylist. When Tory first asked her about getting married she replied, "Yes, but not until I can walk down the aisle with prosthetic legs.  I am not getting married in a wheelchair. And I still need a beautiful new hand for you to put the ring on."

In the face of such daunting challenges, Merlyna discovered a remarkable inner strength that enabled her to transcend anger and sadness, and focus on her gratitude for being alive. She recovered from three amputation surgeries and began the process of getting prosthetic hands and legs, and learning to use them. She vowed to return to her position as principal of the elementary school she cherished, although many thought it would be impossible.  One year after her amputations, she walked through the doors of St. Rose Elementary School and resumed her leadership of 650 youngsters and a faculty of 100.

Watch a video of Merlyna's true story of loss, love and triumphant restoration:  


If you would like to talk with Merlyna, please contact Carol Sorrels, 405.250.8555, csorrels@armdynamics.com 

High resolution photographs and high definition b-roll are available.

To learn more about Merlyna's upper limb prosthetics visit: www.armdynamics.com


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Advanced Arm Dynamics specializes in upper extremity prosthetic rehabilitation worldwide.