A war hero who was “betrayed” by the NHS after he lost both his legs in a Taliban bomb blast has taken his first steps on his new £90,000 bionic limbs.
Clive Smith, 30, had to remortgage his home to pay for the surgery in Australia which joined titanium rods to his thigh bones so that he could snap them onto his prosthetics.
He was left badly injured after he stepped on a bomb as he led a mines weeping patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province in October 2010.
The Lance Corporal lost both legs after triggering the Taliban planted IED device while serving with the 33 Engineer Regiment during the height of the conflict.
After returning to the UK, doctors fitted him with prosthetic legs and he learned to walk unaided again over the next few months.
But last January he was confined to a wheelchair after painful blisters made it impossible for him to put on his prosthetic limbs.
After waiting in vain for new legs from the NHS, Clive remortgaged his home in Walsall, West Mids., to fund a pioneering operation in Australia.
The £90,000 procedure means Clive can walk on new prosthetic limbs that fit directly onto the titanium rods.
Yesterday his girlfriend Jenn Price, 29, released inspiring video of Clive taking his first steps on his new legs just 12 days after his life-changing operation.
Clive thanked prosthetics expert and former Iraq refugee Dr Munjed Al Muderis, who performed the eight-hour surgery at Macquarie University Hospital in Sydney.
He said: “To walk without the sockets was a great feeling. It’s also a weird feeling as I haven’t walked in nearly 12 months.”
“It took a lot of concentration, but it felt like progress – and progress isn’t something that I’ve felt in the last year whilst in the UK.”
“I didn’t have any nerves before the operation, I knew it was the right thing to do.
“Dr Munjed’s team are very pleased with the outcome of my operation and my progress, although I still have a long road ahead of me.
“The physiotherapist I need boils my strength up and I’m using muscles that I haven’t been using before because of the sockets and not walking for 12 months.”
Paying tribute to his girlfriend Jenn, he added: “Jenn is my absolute rock. She has not left my side since being here and is doing my dressings every day and sorting out my numerous medications.”
The couple hope to return to their home next month to lead a “normal life.”
Jenn, a marketing manager, posted the video of Clive walking on her Facebook page.
She said: “Words cannot describe how excited and proud I am of this man. Each day is progress and this man hasn’t complained once throughout.
“It is fantastic to see Clive walking at his full 6ft 1in height again.”
The couple, who have been together since college, previously said they were forced to pay for the expensive treatment after being “betrayed” by the NHS and the Ministry of Defence who failed to give Clive the appropriate care he need.
Dr Munjed Al Muderis said: “These young British soldiers were sent to help Iraq and Afghanistan stand on their own two feet and were met with terrorism.
“I feel ashamed of that. The very least I can do is say sorry by helping them get their mobility back.”