Landmine blast survivor now working alongside doctors who saved her in Manhattan

Michelle Charlesworth Image
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Landmine blast survivor now working alongside doctors who saved her
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Michelle Charlesworth has the latest details.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- 17 years after a young woman lost both her legs in a mine blast in Kosovo, she is fulfilling her dreams in Manhattan, working side-by-side with doctors who gave her a second chance.

Ibadete Thaqi was 13 when a landmine exploded and took her legs.

"I remember every detail, as scary as it is I do," Thaqi said.

Eyewitness News showed her a photo found online.

"If you had a chance to say something to her what would you say?" Eyewitness News Reporter Michelle Charlesworth said.

"That she should not lose hope, someday she will make something of herself and be happy," Thaqi said.

In 2000, "Nightline's" Dave Marash profiled her in the hospital.

Once Americans learned about her, strangers brought her to the Hospital for Special Surgery to receive free prostheses.

She spoke no English, but would become fluent, learn to walk, and come back to the United States for high school and college, and get a job at the hospital!

"I can't believe it," Thaqi said.

Every day, 30-year-old Thaqi leaves her three-story Manhattan walk up to work there, in the same halls where as a teenager she learned to walk again.

She has been working there as a research coordinator for three years. She cannot believe that the worst thing that ever happened to her opened up a whole new beautiful life.

"She's totally smart, pretty," said Jeme Cioppa-Mosca, Senior VP of Rehab, Hospital for Special Surgery.

The marathon on a hand cycle is her next challenge, and Thaqi also loves to ski.

"It's a miracle. Personality, courage, and her determination," said David Helfet, M.D., Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon, and Hospital for Special Surgery.

She inspires people every day, but there is one truth she holds dear.

"There are so many wonderful people in the world," Thaqi said.

And anything is possible.