After heart surgery left a local woman paralyzed from the waist down, the most common of tasks became challenging.
Following the procedure, 38-year-old Stacy Baird spent two months recovering at a spinal injury rehab center in Atlanta.
Baird’s still adapting to the everyday struggles of home, but said the kind hearts and helping hands of others have lessened the hardship.
Employees of Home Depot donated time and bought materials to build a wheelchair ramp last week at her family’s home in southern Dawson County.
The three employees who volunteered finished the job in one day with the help of Stacy’s husband, Michael Baird, who also works at the store.
A case worker with the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, a private hospital specializing in medical treatment for spinal cord injuries, mentioned that Home Depot often chipped in for similar projects.
Michael Baird hand-delivered a letter from the Shepherd Center to his supervisor at Home Depot, who got approval to build the ramp.
Materials and labor would have cost the family more than $2,000.
“It’s wonderful,” said Stacy Baird. “There’s no way we would have been able to afford it. Being disabled is very expensive. I can tell you that.”
The cost of a manual wheelchair alone, she said, set them back $5,000.
Home Depot employee Russell Fuller jumped at the opportunity to assist the Bairds.
“Right now, people can’t afford to give money,” Fuller said. “I can give my time, because that’s all I’ve got.”
Stacy Baird said she “couldn’t ask for a better group of people. They keep giving.”
Staff of the Dawsonville and Dahlonega stores also donated grab bars for the bathrooms and other needed alterations for the home.
Baird said she had no idea how much life would change following her surgery.
“It’s tough,” she said. “Everything is different.”
Last year, Baird was diagnosed with aortic dissection, an often-fatal disorder that required heart surgery. Specialists gave her medication to battle it.
The problem grew worse, and doctors said surgery was the only option.
Prior to the procedure, surgeons gave her a 5 percent chance of being paralyzed and a 30 percent chance of dying.
Doctors have said there’s a chance that motion may one day return to her legs.
She’s hopeful, but also thankful for the opportunity the ramp provides her to get out of the house.
Her husband is grateful as well.
“I don’t want her to have to sit here, stuck indoors and become depressed,” he said.
“She’s always been an independent person, so we just have to learn a new way to go about it.”