RARE TALENT: Anaplastologist Sophie Fleming designs and builds prosthetics for clients who have lost facial features. Below left is an example of her work.
RARE TALENT: Anaplastologist Sophie Fleming designs and builds prosthetics for clients who have lost facial features. Below left is an example of her work. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Life after a part of you is lost

LOSING a limb or a part of your face such as a nose, ear or lip can only be described as traumatic - but a Northern Rivers team is leading the way in prosthetics and has just released two videos showing clients who have recovered their lives after the process.

When Time of Our Lives actor Tony Bell lost a limb in between series one and two of the hit ABC TV show, Northern Prosthetics, based in Newrybar, was consulted to help scriptwriters tell the story in a technically correct way, talking the producers through the prosthetic process.

Mr Bell, who had his leg amputated because of a melanoma, features in one of two new videos Northern Prosthetics have released on YouTube designed to show there is light at the end of the process for those who lose a limb or facial feature from illness or accident.

Another video tells the story of a client who Northern Prosthetics anaplastologist Sophie Fleming had built and fitted a facial prosthetic for after he lost his nose and upper lip due to cancer surgery.

"The videos are about educating people about the process - to show there is life at the other end," Northern Prosthetics business manager Dave Wiseman said.

"It is a fairly traumatic situation for a client to find themselves in and we want to show clients there is hope."

The team consists of Mr Wiseman, prosthetist Peter Farrand and anaplastologist Sophie Fleming, with Mr Farrand being the only resident prosthetist between theQueensland border and Newcastle and Ms Fleming one of the only two anaplastologists in New South Wales.

The team runs clinics in Ballina, Lismore and Murwillumbah and is about to open another clinic in the new rehabilitation wing of the Maclean Hospital.

They also have purpose-built accommodation onsite at Newrybar, where clients can stay with their families while they have their prosthetic designed and fitted.

"We have clients travelling from all over Australia," Mr Wiseman said.

"Having them stay here enables us to focus on their needs and turn around the prosthetic over a three to four-day period, whereas in the city you may wait up until six weeks.

"We have all the quality control and infection control systems - it's the same as in a hospital but it is in a family-friendly environment."


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