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Independence Day Has New Meaning For Dracut Veteran Who Lost His Leg

Jul 04, 2019 04:46PM ● By Lisa Redmond

DRACUT – After his right leg was mangled by an explosive while Army Sgt. Brandon Korona was deployed to Afghanistan in 2013, Korona, of Dracut, has been the picture of patriotism and persistence, but he has had one consistent obstacle at home - stairs.

Korona and his wife, Chelsea, live in a split-level home with a lot of stairs. At home he can’t use a wheelchair throughout the house, so he must ‘’tough it out’’ by using crutches or keeping his prosthetic on. After a long day of as a supply chain planner at BAE Systems and assisting his wife at their Dracut-based The Dance Shoppe LLC, climbing stairs is a daunting task - until now.

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, the New England Patriots Foundation and Patriot Place teamed up announce on Wednesday that they will donate $50,000 to Homes For Our Troops, a non-profit organization dedicated to building and donating specially-adapted custom homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans. The donation is from the proceeds of this year’s Finish at the 50 road race. The funds will be used to provide Korona with a specifically adapted home in the Merrimack Valley, sometime within the next two years.

“This house completely changes our lives,’’ Korona told WCVB TV during a ceremony Wednesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. “It gives us an opportunity to actually move forward with our lives.’’

In an HFOT video, Korona explained he was on his first deployment to Afghanistan as a combat engineer with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. On June 23, 2013, he was on a route clearance mission with his unit when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Paktika Province, Afghanistan. The explosion knocked Korona unconscious, breaking his right ankle and every bone below his left knee.

Korona spent two years recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center from multiple surgeries that inserted pins and rods before returning home to Massachusetts. But after four years of pain and a diminishing quality of life trying to keep his left leg, Korona opted for an experimental surgical procedure called an Ewing Amputation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

He is the second person in the world – first veteran - to undergo this amputation surgery, which gives him the ability to control a robotic prosthetic with his brain, enabling him to perform complex actions and feel sensations. This radically new surgery re-attach muscles and nerves in a way so the recipient can still “feel’’ their phantom limb without phantom pain.

Outside the home, Korona, a native of Rayham, plays football on the Wounded Warrior football team and is also training for the 2020 Boston MarathonHe is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in operation and project management at Southern New Hampshire University.

Korona told HFOT, “I am so grateful for the support I have had past and present. I am living my life for more than just myself. I live my life with meaning.’’

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