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'I'm learning to walk again after losing my legs'

PUBLISHED: 12:19 04 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:55 07 September 2010

A HAMPSTEAD man who lost both legs after contracting meningitis has spoken of his struggle after learning to walk again. Ergun Ahmed, who lives in Fleet Road, was a fit and active family man with a busy job as an event organiser when he develo

Tan Parsons

A HAMPSTEAD man who lost both legs after contracting meningitis has spoken of his struggle after learning to walk again.

Ergun Ahmed, who lives in Fleet Road, was a fit and active family man with a busy job as an event organiser when he developed the infection at Christmas 2005.

He thought has was going down with flu, but as his symptoms got worse his wife called an ambulance.

"I took a day off work, but the next day my wife found a couple of purple blotches on my body. In hospital they put me into an induced coma. When I woke up, I had no legs," said the 42-year-old.

"The full extent of what had happened to me didn't really hit me straight away as I was on quite a lot of drugs. When I was weaned off them it was quite shocking."

Two years on, after a difficult rehabilitation process, Mr Ahmed has learned to walk with artificial limbs and is even starting to run indoors.

Jo Buckley, a specialist physiotherapist at the Royal Free Hospital, has worked with amputee patients for 15 years and she played a key role in Mr Ahmed's recovery.

She said: "People go through physical and emotional changes. They need psychological help. Friends and family can have trouble adjusting to what has happened and their home and social set up needs to be addressed."

Mr Ahmed's training regime focused on helping to maintain his joint range and muscle strength and improving his balance and stability.

"Jo has been fantastic - she's really been an inspiration to me," said Mr Ahmed. "The hospital has been fantastic all round - getting me used to normal life again and giving me my confidence back.

"We did exercises just getting on a bus and then going to bars. At first it was hard - in the early stages I got quite depressed. I thought my life was over and I'd spend the rest of my days in a wheelchair. But having a family really does help."

Mr Ahmed's Japanese wife Terujo and their daughters Yuhmi, eight, and Reina, four, have stood by him throughout the process and he says his success is down to them.

"I have a lovely wife and two lovely kids," he said. "That eggs me on - I can't be depressed in front of the children."

No longer able to work as a production organiser, Mr Ahmed is now beginning an alternative career and is considering a Japanese language course.

"My wife is Japanese and although I speak a bit already it will be nice to learn her language properly," he said.

"My next task is to get good at running outdoors so I can catch my children when they run away from me in the park."

tan.parsons@hamhigh.co.uk

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