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Angelina: The Adaptive Amputee

She encourages amputees to find their own finish lines.

Angelina has dedicated her life to empowering amputees all over the world through social media. With each post, reel and story, she shows what is possible.

Angelina’s journey began in a small town in Russia, near the Black Sea. She was born with clubfoot, tibial hemimelia and other health issues that had led to organ failure. With limited healthcare resources to save their child, Angelina’s biological parents made the difficult decision to put her up for adoption. They’d hoped an American family would take her to the United States for lifesaving care.

At about that time, Angelina’s soon-to-be-adoptive parents, Kathy and Danny, were traveling abroad for business. Amazingly, the first leg of the trip landed them in Russia. A colleague found out about a very sick baby in a nearby orphanage and convinced Kathy and Danny to go meet the child.

As it’s been described to her by her parents, they took “one look at Angelina’s big brown eyes and couldn’t look away.” She was 2 years old at the time.

Angelina needed several very expansive surgeries. However, it took two years to finalize the adoption. That wait kept her parents in Russia, where her mother continued to work full-time. Her father spent every day advocating for Angelina at the hospital while hoping to become her adoptive father.

Once in the United States, Angelina’s parents found Shriners Children’s St. Louis and Perry Schoenecker, M.D. They liked the idea of surgery, rehabilitation services and the prosthetics clinic all being under the same roof, and led by the same team.

Angelina doesn’t remember the start of her care at Shriners Children’s St. Louis. The below-the-knee amputation occurred in 1996. Then, the hospital team helped her learn to walk using a prosthetic.

Her prosthetics grew in height through the years, and became the tool she needed to be active. Her parents insisted her disability wasn’t an excuse. So, they figured out ways to adapt so Angelina could experience water skiing, swimming, ballet, and even playing soccer, softball and basketball.

When you look at my social media account, I hope you see yourself and what you’re capable of.

Because Angelina was so active, the foot on her prosthetic leg would often break. The prosthetics and orthotics team at Shriners Children’s St. Louis was in constant communication to make sure she had a functional leg.

It was the commitment of her prosthetist, Marvin Hohbein, and the ingenuity that her father modeled in creating homemade adaptable tools for her to play sports and do activities, that led to her earning a biomedical engineering degree from the University of Iowa.

While Angelina knows she was blessed with a great support system, she quickly recognized a need for more amputees to be involved in the creation and building of the devices that help the amputee community.

Degree in hand, Angelina interned alongside Marvin in the Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS) department, and eventually became a prosthetic technician in Chicago.

Eventually, life took her away from prosthetics as a means of employment. Now 31, Angelina works in electrophysiology in Colorado.

However, in her spare time, she dedicates her energy to creating social media content that empowers other amputees. She wants the amputee community to know that life after amputation might not be easy, but there is a way for each of them. She also wants those with limbs to recognize a prosthetic leg helps her function just like a pair of glasses might help them with their vision.

“When you look at my social media account, I hope you see yourself and what you’re capable of. Cross your own finish line, whatever that looks like to you,” Angelina explained.

Make your own way. Find your own successes.

“You don’t need to sit on the couch all day and make excuses. But you also don’t have to be a Paralympian,” she said.

Angelina’s message was recently shared by Amplitude Magazine, a publication for amputees and families of amputees.

Sharing Her Heart

Angelina is on a mission to break barriers.

young female child

While sick and in need of orthopedic care, Angelina is cared for at a Russian orphanage.

female child with partial leg amputation

Angelina smiles in a Shriners Children's St. Louis hospital bed.

female child in sand at beach

Angelina's family ensured she got to experience everything all children love, including rolling around in the sand!

young Angelina in ballet pose

Angelina's prosthetic leg is hidden under her ballet tights.

angelina poised at the top of a large canyon

Angelina and her husband enjoy hiking in Colorado.

female wearing prosthetic working out

Angelina tests her leg strength.

female exercising with ropes

Angelina is determined to succeed through exercise and strength training.

Angelina and statue

Angelina poses with Terry Fox statue in British Columbia. He was a Canadian athlete who lost his leg to cancer.

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