Amped amputee ignores adversity

Last updated 05:00 03/08/2014
Korrin Barrett
AMPED: Korrin Barrett is taking it all in her stride.
Korrin Barrett
ROAD TO RECOVERY: Korrin Barrett in hospital.

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Korrin Barrett was successful in her job, happy in her marriage and excited about her travel plans - so when a persistent tummy-ache started to annoy her, she was determined to ignore it.

The Canterbury-raised woman was living the life, splitting her years between a new job in Brisbane and holidays with family and friends back home in New Zealand.

One day she was ignoring the pain in her abdomen - the next she was rushed to hospital. Doctors discovered a perforated large intestine and she went into surgery to have it removed. Unfortunately, she also picked up the blood disease septicaemia, and her body began to fail. Her limbs slowly began to die.

"I was in the prime of my life, I thought," Palmerston North-born Barrett said yesterday.

"I was so fit and healthy and this changed my life. This wasn't something I could even picture, and then all of a sudden it was happening."

In October, 2012, she had both her legs amputated below the knee. A month later, she lost one hand and most of the other.

Both times, it was up to her to make the tough call: lose her limbs or risk losing her life.

She spent the next eight months in hospital learning to live without her hands and lower legs. In less than two years, Korrin Barrett has gone from a normal, healthy young woman to being comfortable calling herself an amputee.

Since being discharged from hospital last year, her friends have gathered round in support.

Lisa Willis, a former schoolmate from Christchurch, set up a Facebook page to raise money to pamper her old friend. And when Willis spotted the All Blacks captain in town, her first thought was for her friend. "I even cornered Richie McCaw in our local supermarket, and got him to call her last year, because she's a massive fan of his."

Korrin has learnt to surf again, been snorkelling in Indonesia and, in January, she bungy jumped off the famous Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown.

Next month, the 35-year-old will walk the 5km part of the Bridge to Brisbane fun run on prosthetic legs, to raise money for Crohn's & Colitis Australia.

"You either choose to run with it, excuse the pun, or you lay around in bed feeling sorry for yourself," she said. "It's amazing what your body can adapt to."

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Her car number plate is AMPD AZ - a poke at her situation and a promise she won't let it get her down.

At the moment, everyday tasks are having most impact.

"I do my own make-up and I'll be driving soon," she said.

"But it's the little things, like not being able to put on earrings or open something."

She was back at work a few days after leaving hospital and now works four days a week.

"Working, for me, is really important. It's about normality, and going back to work was part of that."

Barrett's two lower leg prosthetics for exercise cost $30,000 each, but allow her to do things like compete in the Bridge to Brisbane.

Barrett is determined to get back to her old self - fit, healthy and living a normal life.

"For me, it will be being able to put on my legs and go for a long walk. To be able to come home afterwards, and continue on with my day and for it to not have affected me."

- Sunday Star Times

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