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Earthquake Survivor Gets A New Arm | News

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Earthquake Survivor Gets A New Arm


ATLANTA -- A life-changing trip to Atlanta is coming to an end soon for an earthquake survivor from Haiti.

Guerline Charles will return next week with a new arm and a full heart.

"I will go with everyone here in my heart," Charles said through her friend and interpreter Rachel Isons, who is also from Haiti. "I will not forget them. I will not forget the amazing love." 

Charles arrived in Atlanta in May to heal from the devastating earthquake that rocked her homeland.

When it hit in January, she spent two days trapped in the rubble of a school building with her arm crushed by concrete. She was the only survivor in her classroom.

Doctors decided there was no way to save her arm without risking her life.

"The minute they told me they had to amputate, yes, I did grieve and cry," she said. "Then I decided I need to live."

With the help of Atlanta orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stephen McCollum, Charles flew to Georgia to be fitted for a prosthetic arm.

She moves it with her shoulder blade and remaining muscles.

"She's regained grasping, lifting, moving up and down, side to side," Isons said.

She's learned to sew, cook and use a computer through weekly physical therapy sessions.

"Never once did she get frustrated," said Lauren O'Brien, founder of Embraced Atlanta. "She just kept trying and trying and trying. Her persistence is something to learn from."

Embraced Atlanta is helping Charles raise money to pay for her prosthetic, which costs about $50,000.

Here's the information if you want to make a donation:

  • Wachovia Bank
  • c/o Embraced Atlanta Inc.
  • Account Name: Guerline
  • Account number ending in 7682

This weekend, Charles will help other amputees by serving as a judge at the "Battle of the Burgers."

It's a fundraiser for Embraced Atlanta, which provides used orthopedic and prosthetic equipment to patients in need.

The Burger contest will take place on Saturday, October 2, at John Howell Park in Virginia-Highland from noon to 4.

"We're excited that Guerline will be eating burgers with two hands," said O'Brien of Embraced.