Sarah Almagro’s family has won the battle to get the health service to pay for the prosthetic feet and hands which enable her to live an independent life. The regional government has agreed that the Andalusian Health Service (SAS) will now fund certain orthopaedic prosthetic items for people in special clinical situations like that of Sarah, who is a quadruple amputee. The decision was communicated personally by the Junta’s Minister of Health, Jesús Aguirre, and head of the SAS, Miguel Ángel Gúzman, to Ismael Almagro, Sarah’s father, this week.
Sarah’s prosthetic hands and feet cost more than 200,000 euros and as they have to be changed every few years the cost would amount to some 2.5 million euros over her lifetime. In her case, her family has been able to use funds from the somostuola.es foundation, but they started their campaign because they believe this is something that should be covered for everybody by Social Security.
Sarah suffered meningococcal meningitis, with sepsis and multi-organ shock, when she was 18. She spent ten days in a coma and had several cardiac arrests and kidney failure, which meant she needed dialysis. An initial amputation of her fingers was not enough and surgeons had to remove her arms below the elbow and her legs below the knee. She has had 25 operations in all, including skin grafts and a kidney transplant. Today, at the age of 22, she is a third year law student at Malaga university and her prostheses enable her to attend classes unaided.
Ismael Almagro says he is delighted by the Junta’s decision. The ortho-prosthetic catalogue was seriously out of date and updating it would normally take several months, so from now on amputees with special needs can be referred directly by their specialists to the Junta to obtain prostheses which are not included in the catalogue.
Almagro has now requested a meeting with the president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juanma Moreno, to ask for a centre to be set up to coordinate assistance for amputees and attend to their needs.
This is not the first battle the family has won since Sarah became ill. They have also managed to get the vaccine that would have protected her against meningitis included in the vaccination calendar. Thanks to their determination and the response of the Junta, all children in Andalucía can now be given this as part of the routine vaccination programme.