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More than just making it

Losing a limb would be a tragedy for most people, but for former Army Corporal Allan Doyle it turned into an opportunity.
Doyle joined the Army in 1998 at the age of 25. As a soldier, he was stationed at Fort Hood and was originally supposed to be discharged from the Army on April 15, 2003. However, Doyle said he was deployed to Iraq April 7 due to a stop loss put into effect in March of that year.
The stop loss policy prevents a serviceman from getting out of the military even if their contract is expired. The stop loss lasted until fall 2003, Doyle said, and he would not have been able to get out of the Army at his scheduled time. Yet, an injury sent Doyle home early and ended his service in the military.
After being stationed in Iraq for 20 days Doyle and his team were in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. Doyle was climbing one of the thick walls surrounding the perimeter of the palace when part of it collapsed and crushed his left leg.
He was sent to a hospital in Kuwait and then to Spain. While in Spain, doctors told him his leg would have to be taken off.
“I didn’t want to fight it,” Doyle said. “I foresaw more problems if it wasn’t amputated.”
Doyle said his decision was made when he considered a similar problem his uncle had when an infection could have been contained if a sufficient part of his leg had been amputated. However, doctors only cut off his toes. When that didn’t work, his leg was amputated below the knee. That didn’t work either, so now his leg is amputated above the knee, Doyle said.
After leaving Spain, Doyle was sent back to Fort Hood. Doctors waited to amputate his leg there so Doyle’s mother could be present for the surgery, he said.
Doyle went to rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C, after which he was sent back to Fort Hood.
While there, he started the Army’s medical board process. The medical board process helps determine if an injured individual can be compensated by the military or qualify for disability retirement, Doyle said. The process took about a year, and he was finally discharged on May 1, 2004.
Before Doyle’s leg was amputated, he had plans to become a corporate attorney. After his amputation, he was introduced to the world of prosthetics, he said.
“The more I saw them, the more interested I became,” Doyle said.
That is when he began to pursue a career in the field of prosthetics.
After being discharged from the Army, Doyle moved to the state of Washington, to be near his daughter, Rhiya. He decided to apply to the University of Washington’s prosthetics and orthotics program. He was accepted to the university, but not into the program, he said.
He stayed in Washington for two years and then moved back to Texas. He was accepted into UT Southwestern Medical School’s prosthetics and orthotics program. Doyle has been attending school there for two and a half years, he said.
Doyle and his wife, Tara, set about finding a place to live in the DFW area. They decided to move to Ennis because it was near a lake, and Doyle had visited the area while stationed at Fort Hood and really liked it.
He said with a Bachelor of Science degree in prosthetics and orthotics, there is a wide variety of work that can be done. A prosthetisist can work directly with patients or go into research and development. They can work for a hospital, the government or have a private practice, Doyle said.
“The field needs more people who actually care and can relate to amputees,” he said.
Not only did Doyle find a rewarding career path, he also got married and had two kids since his amputation.
“Unlike other patients at Walter Reed, who were down and depressed, I feel blessed in this situation,” Doyle said. “I found a career and a wife, and I have great kids.”
Tara, his wife, agrees with him.
“What we’ve both learned from all this is that God is in charge and he’s been really good to us despite our circumstances,” she said.

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Posted by on Nov 3 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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