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September 23, 2011 06:02 PM

Tea Boy Tries Out New Legs

Sioux Falls, SD


A Tea boy who lost all his limbs to bacterial meningitis almost two years ago is now getting used to a new pair of legs.

Every step is a big step for four-year-old Austin Schoppert Coffee.

"He just kind of surprises us," mom Heather Coffee said.

Heather has been there every step of the way since her son was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis almost two years ago. Doctors couldn't find a pulse in Austin's legs or arms. They decided to amputate all four limbs to save the then three-year-old.

"I didn't know anything about his condition until he actually got it, and when it was, I had no idea what it was and what was to be expected," Heather said.

Austin had to spend two months in a Cincinnati hospital, recovering from the life-threatening illness. Now he's making great strides, thanks to physical therapy and plenty of patience.

"At first when we got home, he couldn't even sit up," Heather said.

Austin is now coming to the Children's Care Rehabilitation Center, where he's learning to walk with his new prosthetic legs.

"They're quite a bit longer, so right now it's about getting him to balance," Heather said.

Heather hopes her son will walk far with these legs and ultimately get prosthetics with functional knees.

"Start walking a lot more. Eventually get the arms, so he'll be pretty independent," Heather said.

Austin plans to go to Kindergarten next year. His mother is confident he will, but right now they're taking life one step at a time.

"I didn't ever expect a lot of the stuff. He's surprised me with just being able to walk on the legs and being able to crawl up on the couch by himself. He wants to do things himself, which is a good part," Heather said.
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