Soldier who lost legs in suicide bombing helps others

A soldier who lost both legs after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan last January is helping others who have lost limbs.

A soldier who lost both legs after a suicide bombing in Afghanistan last January is helping others who have lost limbs.

Master Cpl. Paul Franklinhas been in treatment for months at Edmonton's Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, where he learned how to walk with prosthetic legs.

His long road to recovery began after he survived an explosion that killed a Canadian diplomat and injured two other soldiers on Jan. 15 near Kandahar.

He said he came to realize during his rehabilitation that he could help fill the void he had faced.

"[I needed] someone who's in the exact same boat as I am and who knew exactly what I was going through," he said Tuesday.

"Then I asked around the hospital …and we decided this is something that we could do."

He co-founded the non-profit Northern Alberta Amputee Program, which will help bring amputees new technology developed at the University of Alberta and provide peer counselling by others of the same sex and age with similar injuries.

Franklin said that's important because it's tough for a younger person who has lost an arm to relate to someone who may be older and who may have suffered a completely different injury.

"The grandmother who's 85, she might just care about cosmetic issues and not worry about walking so much. Her main issue might be getting up and doing the dishes every once in a while, or brushing her teeth, whereas the 60-year-old female may care less about cosmetic issues, but want to be more active."

He hopes his group will be able to help amputees from Western Canada and the Arctic who use the services of the Glenrose hospital.

Taxi hit armoured jeep

In March, Franklin recounted how the blast caused him indescribable pain and put his wife and young son on an emotional roller-coaster.

He was a medic with 1 Field Ambulance and remembered watching a taxi hit the armoured jeep he was driving that day.

He flew through the air after the explosion and, after he landed, began rubbing his upper body to extinguish flames burning his face and hair.

Then he looked down and noticed one of his legs was missing. A comrade tied a tourniquet to prevent Franklin from bleeding to death. Doctors in Edmonton tried to save his other leg, but it was so badly injured it had to be amputated.

Franklin, who was born in Halifax but grew up in Calgary, has undergone more than two dozen operations since his return to Canada. He said he hopes to resume long-distance running within a year.