Local News

Physical Loss Does Not Prevent Durham Woman From Helping Others

Posted February 21, 2006

— A Durham woman lost both her legs while she was doing what she does best -- helping others. However, she is not letting that loss affect her life.

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Ordinary People Doing The Extraordinary

Every step is a victory for Stella Sieber. She could have looked at life as a defeat after what happened along Interstate 85 in Granville County.

"It was a rainy afternoon. My cousin and I were coming back from visiting my aunt for the weekend in D.C.," she said.

Both saw a sport utility vehicle hydroplane and flip over, so they pulled over to help.

"I heard a metal sound. A car hit the parked car behing me, went into the median and swerved back and hit the back of my car with me in between, so it was an instant amputation," she said.

Stopping to help like that was natural for Sieber.

"It was an important part of my life before the accident and being a recipient of help only reinforced why I wanted to back to doing a lot of the things I had done before," she said.

Sieber was preparing for a mission trip to Haiti when the wreck happened. She did not make that trip, but she did go to Baton Rouge to volunteer after Hurricane Katrina.

"I think that, indirectly, people seeing me walking around helping other people probably were encouraged," she said.

"She is a giving and listening person for a person who have been through what she's been through," said Nancy Payne, a limb loss nurse clinician, who, along with Sieber, volunteers with an adult amputee support group.

Sieber shows amputees how she can still dance, travel and exercise. She is also back at work in her lab.

"They were very busy while I was rehabbing, reconstructing a bench, so it's wheelchair accessible," she said.

Sieber said people have been good to her, and that is why she does not hesitate when asked if she would stop again to help a driver in trouble.

"Had other people not stopped for me, I wouldn't be here today," she said.

Seiber is also a pioneer of sorts. She was the first amputee at Duke to receive new computerized legs called C-legs.

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