Woman, 21, Uses Crowdfunding To Pay To Have Left Leg Amputated Against Doctor’s Orders, Has No Regrets

A young woman from the United Kingdom, 21-year-old Hope Gordon, suffered from excruciating nerve pain in her left leg. A rare nerve condition began when she was just 12-years-old and left her wheelchair-bound with unbearable pain. The young woman informed doctors with the country’s national health services that she wanted the leg amputated, but they denied her request noting ethical concerns of amputating the leg for pain. However, Hope says it was her only way of potentially leading a pain-free life as she had exhausted all other options available through the health service. Therefore, she decided to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds needed for the amputation by a private doctor.

The Daily Mail reports that 21-year-old Hope Gordon was determined to have her left leg amputated after suffering years of unbearable pain. Hope suffered from a rare nerve condition called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). The condition caused her to experience excruciating pain in her left leg whenever even the slightest pressure was placed on the region. She says the pain became so bad at the age of 12 that she became wheelchair-bound.

Hope’s treatments included pain killers, spinal blocks, epidurals, and other pain control methods; however, none of the methods could end the constant pain.

“I would take pain killers but they couldn’t really treat the nerve pain. I eventually realized that the only thing I could do to get my life and independence back was to have my leg amputated.”

Instead, the pain medications were designed to numb the pain and make it bearable. Hope says the treatments didn’t work and after contemplating her options, decided she would rather have her leg amputated than deal with the never-ending pain. Therefore, Hope asked her public health doctors to look at amputation as a possible option.

Unfortunately for Hope, her requests were immediately denied over ethical concerns. She says doctors were not comfortable talking about amputation as a possible CRPS treatment despite the fact it could remove the pain entirely. Instead, Hope says doctors worried about the potential for phantom pain to continue after the leg was amputated or for the pain to move to another area of the body. However, Hope says if it could potentially work, she needed to try it. She waited until she reached the age of 18 to again request an amputation as she felt many of the concerns revolved around the idea of amputating the leg of a minor. Those requests were also denied, and her only option was continued pain treatments.

“When I became an adult, I thought they would take it a bit more seriously. A lot of their reasons for not doing it are in the ethical guidelines against amputation. The general attitude I’ve had from doctors when I mention amputation and CRPS in the same sentence, is fear. In my opinion many doctors are very scared of even talking about amputation to a CRPS patient. The outcome is unknown and many doctors seam to fear the unknown. “

Though there is fear associated with taking such an extreme measure as amputation, Hope says that many medical professionals agreed that it may be the only way to end the pain permanently.

“I have seen many doctors and other individuals in the medical profession, who completely agreed that amputation could improve my quality of life, but finding a surgeon who was brave enough to actually go ahead and operate was the difficult part.”

With the national health service refusing her requests, Hope took matters into her own hands and raised over $13,000 to pay for the surgery at a private clinic. To raise the money, Hope took to crowdfunding, hoping that her friends and family could share her story and raise half the money. Meanwhile, she planned to host a series of fundraisers to raise the remaining portion of her funds.

To Hope’s surprise, within weeks, the crowdfunding campaign had raised enough money to cover her amputation. After numerous consultations and psychological evaluations, a doctor agreed to perform the amputation, and Hope says it was the best decision of her life. She says she no longer feels the excruciating nerve pain and that she doesn’t miss her left leg at all.

Hope notes that it has been so long since she experienced life without pain that she forgot what it was like.

“There has been surgical pain from the wound but no nerve pain. It’s still early days but it’s a very new experience for me and it’s great. I’ve been living with the nerve pain for so long that I’ve forgotten what it’s like not to have any.”

While doctors note the pain could manifest in a different area of the body in the future, Hope says she has no regrets and that her quality of life has been significantly increased for the time being.

[Image via JustGiving]