For Joseph Peters, simply learning to walk again after losing his right leg below the knee wasn’t a big enough challenge. Instead, the energetic 10-year-old has been running, swimming, playing basketball and even skiing since a mowing accident at his family’s home in Monticello, Ind., last July.
“I was riding my bike again before I could even walk,” he recalls, just five days after getting a new prosthetic leg. “At first, I was a little scared, but then it just came back to me.”
That’s the same determination that helped Joseph stay strong during a five-and-a-half-week stay at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, where he underwent five surgeries and struggled with setbacks, including a serious blood infection.
The family credits Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon Karen S. Myung, M.D., along with the infectious disease team and Riley nurses, for keeping tabs on Joseph’s changing condition, while the physical therapy staff taught him to walk again.
Joseph’s mother, Kathy Peters, says the Riley Child Life program helped keep her son’s spirits up during his long, often-painful recovery. Certified Child Life Specialist Kristin Brown visited Joseph every day, bringing games, toys and even an Xbox right to his room. “She was a calming presence. Anything he needed, anything we needed, she was there for us,” Kathy recalls.
The Peters family has been longtime supporters of Riley, even before Joseph needed care there. Kathy and husband John would tell people that they were blessed not to have a child at Riley, but thought it was important to support families in need.
“We had never needed Riley, but when we did, we were so grateful to have world-class pediatric care so close,” Kathy says. More than a year after leaving Riley, Joseph is looking forward to getting back on the basketball court this winter. He has a well-fitting prosthesis, but he’d really like a “blade” running leg to give him a competitive edge.
Reflecting on his time at Riley, Joseph has a message for all those who helped him heal: “I would say, ‘Thank you so much for helping me go through that whole life-changer.’”