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Solicitor draws on her own amputation experience to help clients.

A SOLICITOR who had a leg amputated has pledged to help others following her own experience.

Rachael Vasmer, a partner in the clinical negligence department with Wrexham-based Walker Smith Way solicitors, has returned to work after her left leg was amputated because of a serious infection.

Rachael, 44, from Pwllglas, near Ruthin, had been a patient at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, in Gobowen, last year. She postponed the operation to amputate her leg to support an appeal hearing for a client who was left paralysed after being injected with cleaning fluid during childbirth. The appeal was successful.

Rachael said: "I've had problems with my knee and then my back since a hockey injury when I was 15.

"An operation at the end of 2006 to insert a knee replacement was done in the hope that my walking would be better with less strain on my back.

"Unfortunately the operation didn't work so I had an external frame put on my leg in March 2008 with wires and pins going into the bone to hold it in place while the leg re-fused. Some of the pins got infected allowing infection to get inside the bone.

"Over six months, despite extensive treatment, the infection worsened and the hole inside the bone got bigger meaning my only option was an amputation above the knee.

"I am now learning to walk again with a prosthetic knee and have just started driving again." Rachael, who has two teenage sons, has been a solicitor with Walker Smith Way since 2004.

She started specialising in clinical negligence after completing her legal training in London..

Rachael, who has won several high-profile cases, including pounds 5m for a client brain-damaged at birth, believes her own experiences will benefit her clients.

She said: "Through work, I've already helped people who have lost limbs but I now have a better understanding of medical procedures and can assess the needs of people wanting to pursue a case of clinical negligence.

"Having undergone an amputation, I can also empathise with its psychological impact. I will be able to recommend the best sources of help and support to my clients based on my own experience of having a leg amputated." Rachael has been encouraged to name her stump as a practical method of coming to terms with the loss - she has chosen the name Zebedee.

"I like the idea of bouncing around on a spring, like the character in the Magic Roundabout," she said.

"No-one ever wants to undergo amputation but it was necessary and I am going to make the best of it." Rachael is one of four solicitors specialising in clinical negligence at Walker Smith Way..

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 13, 2009
Words:453
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