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Remarkable Recovery: Monica Jorge

Monica Jorge and family

"It was the best Christmas present she ever could give to her daughters; their mom was home."

  • All four of her limbs were amputated after complications following childbirth.

All four of her limbs were amputated after complications following childbirth.

Monica Jorge's life in August 2007 could not have been better. She was engaged to a wonderful man, Tony, and they were about to celebrate the arrival of a new daughter. On their way to the hospital neither could have imagined how much their lives were about to change.

The birth of her second child via C-section was relatively smooth, yet she began noticing a low-grade fever a few hours later. Then she had a persistent sharp abdomen pain began. At first she thought it must be related to the C-section. Quickly it became apparent that this was much more. Soon she was in critical condition. Monica was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital.

Doctors diagnosed Monica and the news was grim. She had contracted necrotizing fasciitis, commonly known to as "flesh-eating bacteria". Suddenly drastic action had to be taken to save Monica.

Clinging to life, the new mother slipped into septic shock and time was short. Surgeons acted quickly to stabilize her and isolate the infection. Her uterus, ovaries, her gall bladder, and most of her colon were removed in those first few hours. Once stabilized, physicians realized the infection had also taken another toll – all four of her limbs would have to be amputated. Monica would endure almost 35 separate surgeries.

Monica then had to face months of rehabilitation learning how to function and be a mom again as a quadruple amputee. The choice was made she would make her recovery at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

Her clinical team developed an extensive plan, and Monica herself pushed them even harder. If therapy was scheduled for one hour she wanted two. It was September and she faced possibly five to six months of rehab, but she made a simple request. She wanted to be home with her family by Christmas.

Her clinical team worked with Monica tirelessly. With her occupational therapist and "Ruben" the practice baby doll, Monica would use her new prosthetics to learn all the duties of a mom from changing diapers to buckling a car seat to folding clothes.

The Spaulding team helped her take those first steps, even letting her borrow a therapist's sneakers. Everyone worked overtime to help Monica achieve her goal.

Just four months after the day she almost lost her life, with the cheers of the entire 5th floor, Monica walked out of the hospital, arriving at home in time for Christmas Eve dinner with her family. It was the best Christmas present she ever could give to her daughters; their mom was home.

Monica’s inspirational story has reached out to thousands nationwide. It was first featured in February 2008 in a Boston Globe Magazine series called "Saving Monica." The piece caught the attention of Oprah Winfrey. In September 2008, Monica and Tony were flown out to Chicago to be featured on an "Oprah" episode on "Warrior Moms." She has appeared on Oprah several times and in 2011 was featured on a season of the Nate Berkus Show, where they built a customized adaptive home for Monica, Tony and their family.

Learn more about Spaulding's Amputee program.

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