Quadruple amputee walks, plays, wakesurfs

Kevin Breen lost both legs, a hand and other fingers after strong strain of strep

Kevin Breen, Julie Breen
Kevin Breen and his wife, Julie. (Sept. 27, 2017)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The West Michigan man who underwent four amputation surgeries after a strange case of strep throat has had a busy summer.

Thanks to prosthetics, Kevin Breen of Alto is now out of a wheelchair and walking. He even went wakesurfing — it was his goal for the summer.

“It was awesome,” Breen said Wednesday. “I didn’t go for very long, but still I was able to get up and that was a big accomplishment for me. That was a big deal.”

It’s a huge deal when you look at where he started. It’s a miracle that he’s even alive. Breen survived a strong strain of strep that traveled to his stomach. Doctor’s couldn’t save his extremities because the blood had left them — a last-ditch effort by his body to save his failing vital organs.

But he lived. Since then, he has been through multiple surgeries, prosthetic fittings and hours of physical therapy. He took his first steps on two prosthetic legs in June. The following month, he had his final surgery. This month, he got a new hand. The fingers open and close with the motion of his wrist.

“I’m still getting used to it,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

September is also his birthday month: He turned 45 years old a few weeks ago.

“Never did I envision I wouldn’t have my legs or my hands,” Breen said.

But that didn’t damper the celebration.

“It’s OK. I’m just thankful that I am getting stronger, I’m getting better. I’m becoming more and more independent,” he said.

Little things like being able to pour himself a drink are huge milestones.

“Putting a load of laundry in and just doing simple things that people take for granted,” Breen said.

Some other things aren’t so little, like being able to play with his kids.

“Every day he comes home, he can do more and more,” his wife Julie Breen said.

“We are just kind of like everybody else, just got a couple extra steps in there,” Kevin Breen said.

His next big goal is driving. He will work with Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids to learn how to drive again.