Northwest Indiana doctor helps man walk again

May 31, 2012 (CHICAGO)

"At first it was devastating, angry and crying all the time," said Hernandez. "I realized God loved me and he left me here because I had a 5 percent chance to live."

Hernandez, 28, is a burn victim From Las Vegas and a double-leg amputee who is getting a second chance at life thanks to Dr. Vikram Choudhary, a Munster doctor who gave him prosthetic legs in December. On Thursday, he saw his doctor for the last time before returning home.

On Wednesday, Hernandez was able to walk on his own for the first time since the accident.

"[Dr. Choudhary] has changed my life," said Hernandez. "His energy, spirit and kindness, it is incredible. He is a great man, has changed my life. I can move forward and walk again...I walk like a baby, but it is a great feeling, to look down and see my shoes."

In 2009, Hernandez had 80 percent of his body burned in a car accident that left him in a coma for 90 days. He lost both his legs and had a great deal of damage to his hands.

Without health insurance, the young man could not raise enough money to cover the cost. Dr. Choudhary traveled to Las Vegas to meet with him. The doctor was so moved by the meeting, he called medical vendors to donate parts for the legs each leg, costing approximately $20,000.

Hernandez's insurance finally kicked in and paid for 80 percent of the cost of the prosthetics. The doctor's office paid for the remaining 20 percent

"I walk like a baby, but that is the process," Hernandez said. "Just to look down and see I have shoes on, just to stand up, I have been sitting around for such a long time, it is incredible."

"We did not want him to wait and would cover cost regardless of insurance," said Dr. Choudhary. "That is what we should all do as human beings, do the right thing."

"It really is up to me if I want to walk in a few months I am ready for the challenge," said Hernandez.

The doctor says that he and Hernandez are now lifelong friends. He hopes to eventually get him a more advance set of prosthetics and is willing to cover whatever costs are not covered by insurance.

The doctor does not expect Hernandez to continue rugby in the wheelchair, because he fully expects Hernandez to walk on his own.

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