Anna shares her story for Amputee Awareness Week

Three staff members and one mother holding toddler son
Anna Monaco and Joseph, centre, with Prosthetist Freddie DeCuyper, Nurse Unit Manager SRS Multi-Trauma, Amputee and Multi-Diagnostics Marjory McGuiness and Senior Physiotherapist Nicole Steer
October 5, 2017

Baking a cake for your child’s first birthday party is a wonderful moment in any parent’s life.

But for Anna Monaco, it was a personal achievement she will never forget.

Her son Joseph was born via caesarean at 29 weeks after Anna developed severe preeclampsia (high blood pressure) in July last year.

Four weeks later, as Joseph remained in hospital receiving around-the-clock care, Anna – who is diabetic – developed pain and tingling in her left leg and began to feel unwell.

She was rushed to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, where doctors discovered a severe blood clot which had cut off the blood supply to her leg.

Anna was in an induced coma for three days.

Despite surgeons’ best efforts, her leg couldn’t be saved and had to be amputated below the knee.

Anna was transferred to Fiona Stanley Hospital’s (FSH) State Rehabilitation Service (SRS) where she spent the next two months recovering.

 “Going through the amputation while being apart from Joseph was so difficult. It was the worst time of my life,” Anna said.

“Joseph was the only thing that kept me going.”

Anna was determined to walk, and after many months in a wheelchair she returned to FSH in February this year to receive her prosthesis.

“My goal was to walk before Joseph did and be able to stand at his Christening. I achieved both of those things.”

When Joseph’s first birthday came around, Anna was excited to be able to plan his party.

“We had a lovely party with the family – it was so special,” she said.

“I did everything, including baking the cake.”

It’s been a difficult journey but Anna was quick to point out she hasn’t been going it alone.

“I’ve been so lucky to have had the support of my husband, my parents and my siblings,” she said.

She said staff at FSH had been “amazing”.

“The FSH doctors, nurses and physios are magnificent. They really know what they’re doing and they were there for me with help and encouragement when I needed it most.”

Anna is no stranger to adversity, having suffered kidney failure earlier in life resulting in a kidney transplant – but she hasn’t let any of it hold her back.

“All I want is to be independent, look after my son and live a regular everyday life with my family – that’s what motivates me,” she said.

“Whatever life’s going to throw at me, it’s not going to defeat me. I’ve got a purpose to keep going.”

National Amputee Awareness Week runs from October 4 to 10.