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HomeNewsTurkey EarthquakesThe Challenging Journey of a Boy on Prosthetic Legs Following Turkey's Earthquake

The Challenging Journey of a Boy on Prosthetic Legs Following Turkey’s Earthquake

On a bright October day in London, Britain at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, renowned Prosthetist Paul Gandrapu can be found attending to his young patient, Mehmet Koc. At just the tender age of 13, Mehmet has become an unfortunate victim of a calamitous tragedy that has forever changed his life. He is right there, under the extensive care of Gandrapu, on a treatment bed set for an important prosthetics fitting. Father Hasan Koc, aged 58, watches anxiously, casting concerned looks towards the clinical specialists working on his son. An additional presence, a translator, stands by for bridging any language gaps, a crucial mediator in this cog of healthcare professionals and their linguistically diverse patients.

The date of this scene, captured perfectly in snapshot by photojournalist Clodagh Kilcoyne, is October 9, 2023. This ordinary day in a London hospital actually belies Mehmet’s extraordinary circumstances, a tale of resilience and survival that originated halfway across the globe in Turkey. The preceding months have been nothing short of a disturbing roller-coaster ride for the Koc family, all centered around a catastrophic incident occurring in the early hours of February 6, 2023.

In Hatay, Turkey, a devastating earthquake had shaken the region. It was one of those abrupt, unexpected moments when the earth’s fickle tectonic activity erupted, causing widespread panic and disaster. In the chaos, a five-storey building, which was Mehmet’s home, was reduced to a mound of debris and rubble. Inside it, young Mehmet became the unfortunate casualty of this unforeseeable natural disaster, trapped under concrete blocks and crushed houses parts.

“I did not feel or think anything when I was rescued, I was confused. I wanted water when they rescued me. My family was waiting for me outside and I saw them right after I was pulled out from the rubble,” recounts Mehmet. His vivid recollection, albeit scattered, presents a chilling picture of fear and uncertainty on being buried alive. It also reveals a young teen’s thirst for survival. His words echo a persistent shadow of the anxiety and suspense that were prevalent at that time, giving a glimpse of the harrowing ordeal he went through. His senses, suspended during the time under the debris, were instantly flooded with emotions and information as soon as he was rescued. Unclear on how long he had been trapped, Mehmet’s traumatic experience is etched with the haunting memory of those cold and dark hours.

Post his miraculous rescue, the spotlight transferred from the rubble-removal team to the medical professionals when they made a shocking discovery. Upon examination at the hospital, the doctors found that Mehmet’s legs were irretrievably damaged – crushed and ravaged to an extent that was beyond any scope of repair. The severity of his injuries left no room for hesitation: both his legs were amputated just below the hip. This concluding medical intervention added an additional layer of disaster to an already catastrophic tableau. Yet, it was a necessary choice made to save Mehmet’s life.

Now, months later, hundreds of miles away from his home, Mehmet is on the journey to reclaim his mobility and, in many ways, his life. Under the expert care of Prosthetist Paul Gandrapu, Mehmet finds himself gearing up for a difficult, albeit necessary transition. The unique bond shared between the young patient and his caring medical professional at the intersection of new beginnings and expert healthcare is a testament to resilience, adaptability, and the tenacity of the human spirit in the face of adversity.


The Wider Image: A boy’s arduous steps on prosthetic legs after Turkey’s earthquake


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Author: Turkish News