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Miami Proud: Marine biologist recovers from life-changing incident with remarkable determination

Miami Proud: Marine biologist recovers from life-changing incident with remarkable determination
Miami Proud: Marine biologist recovers from life-changing incident with remarkable determination 04:16

MIAMI - In November of 2020, CBS4 first featured Kemit-Amon Lewis, the athletic marine biologist was visiting the Broward Health team that saved him after a near-death experience.

He experienced a rare bacterial infection, of unknown origin, that led to septic shock, organ failure, and subsequent amputation of his right leg, right hand, left fingers and left toes. 

His journey as an amputee was just beginning.

"One of the first things that they did was reassure me was that I would be diving again I would be on the tennis court, be dancing again," said Lewis.

Initially, he would have to re-learn all the basic daily tasks: getting dressed, getting in and out of the wheelchair, cooking, driving, and eventually learning to use the prosthetics to walk, dance, and play sports.

He lives independently, having surpassed so many challenges.

Since that time, he's started a new job in ocean conservancy and got a new roommate - an adorable French bulldog puppy.

There isn't much he can't do.

He has several prosthetic devices, including a standard arm attachment with a hook, a hand for playing tennis that is a racket attachment, and legs for walking and running.

With spirit and determination – through two years of applying and appeals – he got approval for a major upgrade, a high-tech prosthetic. It's a myoelectric prosthetic called the Nexus Hand, which is made by COVVI.

"I'm fortunate to live in an era where the advancements are so insane. We do have things like electric hands, and we have new technologies where they can implant sensors directly into your nerve to control five fingers independently," he said.

He explained how this hand allows him to do things that the hook didn't.

"There is a key grip, I can change it to finger grip - you don't think about things like going to the gas station you insert your card to the pump how do you get it out? The finger grip helps, the hook doesn't," Lewis shared.

The team at Hanger Clinic: Prosthetics and Orthotics in Hollywood have been instrumental.

"They've been great about designing Pickleball paddles getting me back to sports, my leg for running, my tennis racket, my adjustment sports," said Lewis.

He has prosthetics fitted and adjusted and has built quite a report with the staff.

"He's an amazing individual," said Brett Rosen, clinic manager, and certified prosthetist.

"He has come a long way in a very short period of time and he's very inspirational to our patients that come through our office."

"I like to think that I part of the family they are definitely a part of my family," Lewis said.

But could they get him diving again?

Lewis explained how that would be more challenging.

"They needed to create a leg with a hydrologic ankle that's waterproof that will allow me to kick my fin underwater- and allow me to flex it so I can step out of the ocean onto the boat via the water."

The new diving leg was built, and he recently took the plunge into the beautiful Bahamian waters.

"It was just as if I was riding a bike," he recalled how everything went perfect with the new prosthetic and was extremely memorable.

Lewis said there were "wrecks and a wall and sharks, turtles, and everything that you would want to see on a dive."

He also said that from photography, marine science, dance, and tennis, it's about living life to the fullest and enjoying it.

Lewis has gone diving all over the world with his former job working in coral restoration. 

While he still doesn't know for sure where he encountered that bacteria, it hasn't deterred him from his passion for saving the ocean.

And given all he has learned he'd like to motivate other amputees to advocate for themselves, and he's been invited to talk with engineers in robotics about his experience too.

He is very grateful for all the support he's been given.

"I'm able to continue to navigate this new chapter of my life without feeling if I don't have all the tools that I need. I think that's the biggest thing that Hanger Clinic has helped me with."

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