LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Imagine being told you will lose both your legs;life as you know itwould change forever.
That happened to Jessica Smith, a lover of animals, afamily girl who loves to smile, laugh and be outdoors. "Hopefully one day I will be back out in the woods,"she says.
Last December, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock student contracted strep bacteria in her blood stream.
She remembers, "I was found pretty much purple from head to toe."
Her limbs froze, causing nerve damage. While it took doctors several days to diagnosis Smith, she received a range of antibiotics. One proved to be the right medicineand saved her life.
Smith says, "My nose and lips were actually black. I looked like I had frost bite."
Her face healed, but her legs and five of her fingers had to be amputated. Nearly five months later, she was taking her first steps with prosthetics.
"Every therapist stopped what they were doing and gathered around to watch me stand up for the very first time. It was scary. I didn't know what it was going to feel like."
By her side wereAngela Green and Matt Gaines, who areon the amputee team at Baptist Health Rehabilitation Institute.
"She came down ready to go," Green remembered."She always gave 100 percent."
"We saw her at the lowest of lows and now we are seeing her back to her normal life," explains Gaines.
Green and Gaines worked with Jessica on things like strength conditioning and shopping for groceries.
"I couldn't tear the paper off of a straw, that is how weak my hands were," says Smith.
Smith though was rare. She was much more than just a patient.
The trio quickly became friendsand even spent time with each other away from the hospital.
Green smiles, "I knewI could do things with Jessica that I couldn't do with the average amputee because of her strength and will."
For now, she's still getting used to her prosthetics. The goal is to get prosthetics that are waterproof so she can get back out in Arkansas's great outdoors andstudy animals.
"I am very very close to being completely content," Smith says.
While she's lost her limbs,she hasn't lost her spirit and her determination. Smith now hopes others will read her story and realize they too can overcome adversity.
"She is an amazing person with a beautiful spirit," Gaines adds.