BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A Bloomington man is giving back to amputees in a very personal way. Jim Dewees was treated for frostbite in 1998 after his foot slipped through some ice on a back-country trip. A doctor had to amputate part of his leg.
He said he was frustrated while trying to find a clinic that seemed to want to make a prosthetic leg that functioned and worked properly for him. He eventually opened Prosthetic Center of Indiana in Bloomington to help other people in his shoes.
“If you want it done right, then do it yourself,” said Dewees.
He ended up quitting his job to study prosthetics and received his degree and certification in the field.
“I could go down the path of being feeling sorry for myself, turning to drugs alcohol and other things and being angry about this whole thing,” he said. “I made that choice that I am going to make this a blessing in my life.”
He even opened a nonprofit clinic in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with his own money. Dewees said he did not want to make a free clinic where Americans make limbs and then leave. For more than 15 years, he said he has had a great working relationship with the crew in Santo Domingo.
During trips there, he met several children who were missing limbs. Dewees decided he wanted to adopt a son. As a single dad, he thought he could offer a child a much better life than living in an orphanage.
That’s what took him to China to adopt Cameron. The boy was abandoned as a baby in China after he was born without a hand.
Cameron was at an orphanage until he was 5-years-old. Dewees has been his father for 13 years.
“Especially like China, if they are born with any kind of difference. they are abandoned. That difference means a life of poverty, a life of being discriminated against,” he said.
Dewees said Cameron now thinks it is normal for families to have people with limb differences. It’s something their family appreciates.
Cameron is now a junior in high school. He can go to class without enemies or stigma.
“If you have a limb difference, usually people treat you different but being able to see others with limb differences and how they use them has brought me comfort,” said Cameron.