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Amputee's Special Gift Allows Hope Mills Boy To Lead Active, Playful Life

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HOPE MILLS — A Fayetteville doctor is on a mission.He is helping children who have been through thetrauma of an amputation forget they have adisability.He is helping them feel like other kids, but even more special.

At 5 years old, Tommy Hilbourn is asactive and playful as any other kid.He loves to run in the front yard until he is almost out ofbreath. However, unlike most boys his age, Hilbourn had to learnhow to be a kid all over again -- a kid with a prosthetic arm.

"Having an arm like this feels great because I feel special," he says.

Four years ago, Hilbourn lost part of hisarm in a lawn mower accident. Doctors had toamputate his right arm one inch below hiselbow. Christine Smith, Tommy's mother, says it affected her more than itdid her son.

"It's been difficult making choices; whether to homeschool him or lettinghim go to regular school because of how cruel kids can be these days," shesays.

"My friends were picking on me. They didn't want to hold my rightarm," Hilbourn says.

A teacher at Hilbourn's schoolintroduced Smith to Dr. Chaz Holder ofFayetteville. A triple amputee himself as a result of two accidents,Dr. Holden knows exactly what patients want in prosthetic limbs.

A prosthetic limb with a socketprovides no room for growth, but Dr. Holder's model uses a harness, ametal band and durable plastic to provide the sameeffect at a fraction of the cost.

"If it wasn't for Dr.Holder, my son wouldn'tbe living a normal life like he does now," Smith says.

Prosthetic limbs can cost anywhere from$3,000 to $250,000 a piece. Dr. Holder's models are 10 percent cheaperand can last up to 15 years.


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