Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Climbing trees next goal for amputee

It has taken eight months but Mark Somervell is finally walking again.

The amputee lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in the US in August and nearly bled to death at the side of a Los Angeles highway.

Now, he has been fitted with a prosthetic leg.

"To be standing upright again after eight months felt pretty weird but amazing," he told the Herald on Sunday. "I can now hobble about the house and help out doing the dishes and stuff and it has given me a lot of encouragement."

Somervell's left leg was severed and his right leg badly injured when he lost control of his bike and slid into a barrier.

The 22-year-old had a fresh fight to save his right leg at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital after developing a serious infection within hours of touching down in New Zealand in October.

Further operations saved the right leg and Somervell was allowed home to his family in Nelson.

Last week he had a prosthetic leg fitted at the Wellington Limb Centre.

"I still have three or four months of physio before I will be moving around freely but I can't wait to get back driving again and resume my place in the workforce full time."

Somervell, an arborist, had been back working part-time after getting an invitation from Big Trees nursery to prune bonsai trees.

He hopes he will soon be back at his job and even climbing trees.

Photo / Tim Cuff
Photo / Tim Cuff

He said a positive attitude was helping speed his recovery but he still faces further surgery to repair his shattered right leg.

"Not that long ago I was facing life with no legs and now I am back walking," he said.

"It is easy to sit there and think back to the accident and wonder what if things had been different but I accept that God has dealt this and I have to make the most of it.

"I can't wait for the day when I don't have to use the wheelchair any more. There are times when I feel like setting it on fire or pushing it off a cliff."

Somervell was less than four months into a working holiday in the US when he crashed off his motorbike on the Angeles Forest Highway in Los Angeles.

A quick-thinking motorist found the badly injured former Aucklander and forest rangers applied first aid that stopped him bleeding to death.

- Herald on Sunday

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