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Biotech helps wounded veteran become elite athlete

Melissa Stockwell shows off her high tech leg painted in red, white and blue.

"I can push this button," Stockwell said as she manipulated the prosthesis. "Turn it to put shoes on, to put pants on, it does go all the way around."

She jokes about how twisting her leg around can freak people out. This wounded warrior, athlete and mother can laugh about it now but it was a long road to get there.

Full of pride and patriotism, Stockwell joined the military.

"I love our country," Stockwell said. "I always wanted to be in the Army and made that happen in college."

Lt. Stockwell went to Iraq and will never forget April 13, 2004.

"We were on a routing convoy through central Baghdad," Stockwell said. "My vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb which ultimately resulted in the loss of my left leg above the knee."

She was the first female to lose a limb in active combat. Lt. Stockwell was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. But, her next battle was just beginning.

"We owe a lot of respect and admiration to these veterans that do push our products," Ottobock Chief Future Development Officer Scott Schneider said. "They do create a better end product for our population."

Schneider helped to create a cutting edge prosthetic for Stockwell. It's called the X3 Knee. It's made from high-tech metal and it waterproof. Schneider says wounded warriors like Stockwell are helping to advance biotechnology for everyone.

When Lt. Stockwell was recovering in the hospital she made a decision to keep fighting.

"I saw soldiers missing two, three, four limbs," Stockwell said. "They lost their eyesight, traumatic brain injury and I thought about how lucky I was because I only lost one leg."

In their honor, she would run the New York Marathon and do things she could never have imagined with two legs.

"I have an Ottobock knee right now that I charge every three days," Stockwell said. "I'm able to walk as naturally as I can."

But, she can also run and cycle and went on to be a 3x World Paratriathlon Champion and won a bronze medal in the Rio Olympic Games.

"Melissa is probably one of the most incredible athletes I've ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with sheer determination, sheer powered will," Schneider said. "And a great advocate for people with limb loss."

Melissa says it all came down to a choice to fight through the tragedy, take advantage of the latest medical advances and be thankful to be alive.

"The technology is pretty incredible," Stockwell said. "It's come so far in such a short amount of time because of veterans like ourselves that don't want to take no for an answer."

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