USACardiac arrest and both legs gone – Claire Bridges (21) Laughter amazes everyone
Claire Bridges, 21, suffered three cardiac arrests, lost both legs and had a failing heart. With her positive attitude to life, she even inspires her doctors.
That’s what it’s about
Claire Bridges was 21 years old when a corona disease turned her life upside down.
A congenital heart defect caused serious complications, after which the model had to have both legs amputated.
Her positive attitude to life inspires her doctors.
At 21, Claire Bridges has already had a turbulent life behind her. A doctor says about her: “Most people would be in despair and would have the feeling that life had cheated them.” But she herself says: “I feel like I’m the happiest person on this planet. I have my whole life ahead of me and so many things to look forward to.”
By January of last year, Claire had her own apartment, lots of friends, and a part-time job as a bartender. In addition, she paid particular attention to her health at the time, her mother says to “CNN”. In the same month she experienced several strokes of fate.
“I thought everyone wanted to kill me”
Claire Bridges contracted the coronavirus in January 2022. She was fully vaccinated and also had the booster. But she was born with aortic stenosis, a common genetic heart condition. The disease makes the heart work extremely hard to do its job. This often leads to shortness of breath, dizziness and fatigue. “I could train, but I couldn’t do sports,” the 21-year-old tells CNN.
Her health deteriorated rapidly. «One day my mother found me unresponsive and took me to the hospital. I had three cardiac arrests that night.” She was then put on dialysis, given a ventilator and a pump for her failing heart. “I thought everyone was trying to kill me, but I persevered,” says Claire.
«Suddenly I saw my grandfather fishing»
But then she saw a bright light, and then her grandfather appeared to her. “He was sitting on a bench wearing a baseball cap and fishing. Then I saw my parents through the window, »says Claire. She doesn’t know if she actually saw her or if it was just an illusion. “But I thought, ‘I can’t leave her like this,’ and so my body didn’t give up, despite everything.”
Claire’s organs gradually began to fail. Her heart was further weakened, and the blood soon stopped reaching her extremities. Tissues in both legs began to die. Despite all the surgeons’ attempts, she ultimately had to amputate both of her legs. She recalls the moment the doctor broke the news to her: ‘Well, thank you for saving my life. And oh, can I have bionic legs?”
But the health problems didn’t end there. Because she was malnourished, she was put on a feeding tube. Kimberly Smith, Claire’s mother, says: “She vomited, ruptured part of her small intestine and almost bled to death”. She then developed refeeding syndrome due to her malnourished condition. In the worst case, this can lead to death if not treated quickly.
“It was a fun and liberating time”
Then suddenly her hair started to fall out. Bridges considered shaving her head completely. “I told my brother Drew I was thinking about shaving my head. He immediately looked at me and said he would shave his as well.” Finally, the whole family shaved their heads. “It was a fun and liberating time – plus I’ve always wanted to shave my head so I had to tick it off my bucket list!”
During the difficult time she allowed herself to mourn and there were also dark days. “But honestly, my friends and family have surrounded me with so much love that I’ve never had a second to really think negatively about my legs or my current appearance.”
In December, Claire had to undergo another heart operation. Today, Bridges is in the midst of cardiac rehabilitation and looks forward to walking on a track for the first time in her life with her prostheses. She has also returned to modeling and is proud to show the world how well she survived.
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