LOS ANGELES – A woman who lost both legs and an arm as a child is now poised to become a doctor for children.
Kellie Lim, who became a triple amputee at age 8 because of bacterial meningitis, is graduating from UCLA's medical school on Friday, and plans to specialize in pediatrics.
The 26-year-old Michigan native does not use a prosthetic arm and manages to perform most medical procedures -- including giving injections and taking blood -- with one arm.
"Just having that experience of being someone so sick and how devastating that can be -- not just for me but for my family too -- gives me a perspective that other people don't necessarily have," Lim said.
Raised in suburban Detroit by a blind mother, Lim went through years of wheelchairs and painful therapy after toxic shock from the meningitis claimed her limbs and three fingertips on her remaining hand. She recently returned to Michigan and looked at her childhood medical file and learned that doctors had given her an 85 percent chance of dying of the meningitis.
Just five months after the amputations Lim returned to a normal school. Born right-handed, she learned to write and work with her left.
"I hate failing," she said. "It's one of those things that's so ingrained in me."
Now she walks -- some say she bounces -- around campus and through hospital hallways on a pair of prosthetic legs, sitting during bedside rounds only when painful skin ulcers are aggravated by the legs.
Lim's teachers and fellow students said she exudes a calm that makes them and her patients forget her physical circumstances.
"She has an aura of competence about her that you don't worry," said Dr. Elijah Wasson, one of Lim's supervisors. "At first you notice her hand is not there. But after about five minutes, she is so comfortable and so competent that you take her at face value and don't ask questions so much."
She will begin a residency program at the UCLA Medical Center and plans to focus on childhood allergies and infectious diseases.