NORFOLK -- A year and a half ago,Jackie Richard wasworking inAlabama and got a bad stomach ache. It got worse the next day.

She called in sickand her roommate took her to the hospital.

'It just turned from a stomach infection to sepsis and the sepsis took all over my body,' she said.

Sepsis,a blood infection,caused almost all of her organs to shut down.To save her life, doctors had to amputateher hands and her legs below the knee.

She was givenonlya 15 percent chance of survival.Her parents were told to prepare to make funeral arrangements.

After six months in the hospital,five spent in intensive care,Richardwas well enough to leave.Her sister brought her to Hampton Roads for rehab with the Sentara Rehab program.

She was in a wheelchair when she started intensive daily therapy at Sentara Day Rehabilitation Unit about year ago.Now, she hasprosthetic legs and myoelectric hands which respond to her muscle contractions.

Therapist Leigh Ann Leary has been amazed at Richard's determination and attitude.

'You will not meet more of a fighter than this girl really,' she said. 'I would set goals and she would blow them out of the water.'

Richard admitsit's not always easy to be positive.

'You have these pity parties andI feel sorry for myself, but I've just been bound and determined to get back to whereI wanted to be or to whereI was going, whereI was heading,' she said.

She's also been workingwith her therapists to come up with devices that help her do everyday activities withoutusingher myoelectric arms, which can get pretty heavy.

'She's amazing. In 22 years, I've never had anybody like her.She's a miracle,' Leary stated.

Her sisterisin Iraq right now to supplement her income because the recovery has been a financial hardship on the whole family.

Read or Share this story: