Cerritos mother desperate to get double amputee daughter new wheelchair

CERRITOS, Calif. (KABC) -- The mother of a 17-year-old, double above-knee amputee has turned to a fundraiser to help her daughter get a new wheelchair after their insurance denied them multiple times over three years.

Olivia Fernandes is a double leg amputee like her mom, Shawn Fernandes. Both have a rare genetic condition-popliteal pterygium syndrome.

There was a 50% chance Shawn would pass it on to her children; her two older children don't have the condition.

Shawn and Olivia's legs didn't develop in the womb.

"She had surgery every six weeks her first year of life," Shawn said.

Wheelchairs and prosthetic legs are a part of daily life for this mom and daughter, but Olivia outgrew a chair she got when she was 10 years old.

"When I'm sitting in it, my legs are like coming out to here and it's uncomfortable when you're really tight," Olivia said.

On top of that, the brakes didn't work, tires randomly fell off and duct tape held one of the tires together.

Their insurance denied them an ultralight wheelchair for three years. The Fernandes family was told they couldn't get coverage for the chair because Olivia had prosthetic legs.

The mom and daughter said prosthetic legs aren't for 24-hour, 7-day use. They can cause sores and fall off at any moment, landing Olivia in the hospital with injured wrists. The additional 20 pounds are a lot on the 80-pound teen.

"You're tired. You get home...your hips and back, everything is hurting. You take them off, you let your skin heal, breathe, be healthy. It's just really important to take care of the legs you do have," Shawn said.

Those legs weren't enough. Around the house, countertops are too tall for Olivia.

"If I want to get food, I have to reach and I literally can't even reach the cups," Olivia said.

As she prepared to drive and go off to college, Olivia needed an ultralight wheelchair she could load and unload from the driver's seat.

She's mortified at the thought of having to rely on her dad and older brother to carry her around.

"It's just really embarrassing because, like yeah, I'm almost an adult," Olivia said.

To her mom, Olivia is still her little girl and she is desperate.

"This has gone beyond what I can do by myself. I can't win this one on my own," Shawn said.

Shawn started a GoFundMe account to raise the money necessary for her daughter's wheelchair.
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