Marathon man defies the odds

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The Independent Online
A man who just over a year ago lost half his right leg and his right hand in a landmine explosion will this Sunday be trying to complete the London Marathon.

Chris Moon, 33, was maimed while supervising a de-mining project in Mozambique, but an unusually swift recovery has enabled Oxfam to enter him for the race to raise money for landmine victims in the Third World.

Normally, below-the-knee amputees must wait at least 18 months to be fitted with the kind of specially adapted sprinting limb that will enable Mr Moon to compete. But to the surprise of consultants at Queen Mary's Hospital, Roehampton, their patient's progress has been so fast that he was able to be fitted with the prosthesis Re-Flex VSP less than a year after his injury.

He is very aware that the NHS-supplied leg, which cost more than pounds 3,000, is one of the many medical advantages he has had over Third World land- mine victims. His own experience of medical treatment in Mozambique was a salutary indication of this.

He had to instruct the medic sent to the scene of the explosion on how to insert his drip. When the medic inserted the drip correctly, but failed to run the fluid through, Mr Moon only stopped himself from dying from an air aneurysm and dehydration by pulling out the tubes. Later in hospital, a porter started cutting off the ragged flesh from his stump with a pair of scissors. "I thought with the other pain from the blast I wouldn't be able to feel it, but it actually felt like someone was cutting chunks off my leg. . . After that I asked the doctor not to leave me."

Mr Moon's fitness training before the accident has proved one of his greatest assets in his preparation for the marathon, which could only start in February because his sprinting leg was not available before. It was this fitness that kept him alive after the accident when haemorrhaging and shock would have killed most people.

He is aware, however, of warning voices that his marathon attempt may be premature. Although he will not be the only amputee running, he will certainly be the least prepared, and he was advised towait at least six months before attempting such a challenge. But he has refused to let others set standards for him, and said: "The aim is to finish". Asked how he would react if he does not manage it, he answers: "I'd have a bottom lip like a rolled up sleeping bag for weeks."