Diabetes Patient Details Prosthetics Experience

Posted: Updated: Mar 31, 2016 11:56 PM

HARLINGEN — Getting re-fitted for a prosthetic leg is a new routine for Jose Pompa. He lost his leg to diabetes three years ago.

The man said he wasn’t treating his wounds properly.

"I got an infection three years ago,” he said.

The infection quickly spread and turned into gangrene. Doctors eventually had to amputate Pompa’s leg.

Type 2 diabetes is a disease that runs in Pompa’s family. “My family, on my mother's side, basically all my aunts have it or had it,” he said.

Pompa is now forced to walk a new way. He said he’s on a path he wasn’t ready for.

"It hurts,” he said. “Eventually, it calluses up a little bit, where it’s not going to hurt as much."

Pompa goes to a prosthetic company in the Rio Grande Valley.

"We see 15 to 20 new amputees a month and, probably, 90 to 95 percent are diabetic,” said Anthony Inman.

Inman said most of the prosthetics he sells are for patients who have lost their limb or limbs due to diabetes.

“It’s absolutely an epidemic and it's on the rise,” he said. “We're seeing more and more amputees all the time. Most of it is attributed to diabetes."

Inman said most people he sees get fitted for a lower limb prosthetic. “It’s not uncommon for us to see a father, and see the daughter or son five or 10 years later,” he said.

A study provided by the Amputee Coalition of America states the leading cause for lower limb amputation in the entire state is from diabetes.

The cost for amputations is not going down and prosthetics aren’t cheap.

"They start at about $5,500 and they can work all the way up to $90,000, it just depends,” Inman said.

Jose Pompa is on Medicaid and Medicare. He said diabetes can affect everyone. All of his expenses are paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Anthony Inman said he wants to see change.

“Please, listen to your doctors when they tell you to stay on a strict diet, to watch your sugar levels,” he said. “Ultimately, if you don't, this is where you’re going to end up." 

Pompa said he will continue to manage his disease and do his best to maintain a normal life.

Inman said as his clientele continues to grow, he’ll have to move to a larger location.

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