Yulee man paralyzed from waist down walking again after amputation surgery, new prosthesis

A man who was paralyzed at 19-years-old is learning to walk again after an amputation and new prosthetics gave him mobility.

YULEE, Fla. — After spending 15 years paralyzed from the waist down, Kelly McAbee of Yulee, Florida, is walking again.

“I finally ran across some good doctors out there to give me hope for walking again,” said McAbee.

He was shot at 19 years old and paralyzed from the waist down. His college football and military dreams vanished.

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He suffered from bed sores, and some created life-threatening infections.

In 2018, Baptist Health doctors found a solution that would not only save his life, but give him the ability to walk yet again. Though, it would come at a cost.

“I had to choose between to keep my legs and to possibly die or to have the surgery, be able to walk again, have a better life, a healthier life,” he said.

Dr. Hudson “Hud” Berrey, orthopedic surgeon at Baptist hospital, performed the surgery removing McAbee’s legs, and saving his life.

“He would’ve died just because the infection in his pelvis was so bad,” said Dr. Berrey. “… He gets to feel good about himself again. And I don’t think he’s felt good about himself probably for the last 15 years.”

Michael Richard, a Jacksonville a prosthetist, spent months designing the prosthesis that would give McAbee the ability to walk yet again.

“Other people said it’s not worth it,” said Richard. “You know, ‘He’s better off in a wheelchair’ but you know, I couldn’t subscribe to that.”

McAbee took his first steps in Richard’s office about a year ago.

Now, McAbee’s not only mobile, he’s an advocate. He shares his experiences with other people who may have to undergo amputation surgeries as well.

“So some people wouldn’t be scared, because it is scary to lose a limb,” he said.

With the support of family, friends, and the medical staff he trusts, he doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.