Massachusetts Firefighter who Lost Leg Walking Again

Melrose firefighter Neil Sullivan, who lost his leg while fighting a fire, is walking again with the support of his family, a new high-tech prosthetic leg, and a fellow amputee.

NewsCenter 5's Heather Unruh reported that last September, Sullivan was in a wheelchair, still digesting the accident that crushed his right leg.

"I think the most challenging thing was to get over the hurdles to get off the crutches and just to be able to walk again," Sullivan said.

He is adjusting to life as an amputee and reveling in life's simple pleasures like playing with his 2-year-old son, Thomas.

"Sometimes, he's a little faster than me now," Sullivan said.

Sullivan is getting used to his new prosthetic -- called a C-leg. It's fitted with a microprocessor that automatically adjusts itself to the amputee's walking style.

"The nice thing about the C-leg is that he is able to walk and not even think about it," Next Step Orthotics' Arthur Graham said.

Sullivan's determination and optimism have been key to his speedy recovery.

"He is just so motivated from day one. He's never complained or said, 'Whoa was me.' He wants his life to be just as it was before," Sullivan's wife, Jessica Sullivan, said.

He's also had the support of his family, fellow firefighters and a new friend -- Jerry Scandiffio. He's a prosthetist who helped create Sullivan's artificial limb and understands Sullivan's situation better than most. Scandiffio lost his leg 16 years ago.

"There's a bond there that's almost like a brother," Scandiffio said.

"It was more than just him coming to visit me. It was also a friendship that began, just to see somebody who's living a normal life and looks just like you or I or anyone else, and you know someday that' s going to be you," Sullivan said.

Sullivan's recovery is ongoing. He has more surgery on his left leg this month, then a much-needed vacation with his family.

Next Step Orthotics has fitted Sullivan with a waterproof prosthesis so he can even go swimming.

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