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Mom of 6 got a cold — and lost all 4 limbs. Neighbors team up to bring her home

Tiffany Fonohema, 38, a mother of six, lost all 4 limbs while being treated for sepsis from a cold that turned into pneumonia. Her Springville, Utah, neighbors remodeled her home and raised $100,000 for prosthetics not covered by insurance.
Tiffany Fonohema, 38, a mother of six, lost all 4 limbs while being treated for sepsis from a cold that turned into pneumonia. Her Springville, Utah, neighbors remodeled her home and raised $100,000 for prosthetics not covered by insurance. GoFundMe

First Tiffany Fonohema, a 38-year-old mother of six from Springville, Utah, came down with a cold.

The cold turned into pneumonia, followed by sepsis in the hospital, in part because Fonohema’s medication for a congenital arthritic condition inhibits her immune system, reported KUTV.

With Fonohema facing a 15 percent chance of survival, doctors gave her a drug to concentrate blood in her core, the station reported. The move saved her life, but cost Fonohema her arms and legs.

"She's been the most humble, positive light that our family has ever had, and we've been blessed to welcome her into the family,” her niece, Rielly Fonohema, told KUTV.

On Saturday, Fonohema returned home from the hospital after Springville contractors spent two weeks remodeling her house for full wheelchair access, reported KSTU.

“I’m speechless,” Fonohema said through tears. “We’re just thankful, very thankful.”

She had a motorcycle escort home from the hospital along streets lined with supporters and volunteers who had worked to prepare her home, KSTU reported.

“There were so many people here, clear down the road,” Fonohema told the station. “Everyone that put the house together, they haven’t slept, they haven’t eaten just to try and pull this together in time, it’s amazing."

The community also has raised more than $110,000 toward a $300,000 GoFundMe account to purchase four prosthetic limbs for Fonohema, whose insurance does not cover prosthetics, and to help pay medical bills.

A fundraiser Monday at a Springville brewery raised $40,000, reported KSL. The Strap Tank Brewing Co. also contributed to the fund.

“She’s got the strongest spirit, warrior spirit that I’ve ever met, and if anyone deserves all this — it’s her,” organizer Elizabeth Bird told the station about Fonohema, who was unable to attend.

For Gennifer Lendahl-Gonzales, it took a seemingly simple rose thorn to pierce her health and shatter her calm. While rare, her experience is a cautionary tale for anyone working outdoors.

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