Youngster copes to life as amputee

Published 6:00 am Monday, March 26, 2001

No obstacle seems too great for eight-year-old Marcus Sartin ofBrookhaven.

The youngster has amazed family members, friends and schoolofficials in recent months by displaying an unbelievable amount ofdetermination and strength for someone his age.

Marcus is doing something most people will never do. He’sadjusting to life without legs.

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Despite having both legs amputated in November 2000 followingcomplications with bacterial meningitis, Marcus has shown othersthat the mind is more powerful than the body because it controlsthe body, said his mother, Joyce Sartin.

“His spirit has never changed through all of this,” shesaid.

Marcus’ spirit astonishes people because he always displaysoptimism. He even comforted his mother when she had to make thetough decision to allow doctors at Blair E. Batson Children’sHospital in Jackson to amputate her son’s legs.

“Marcus had come in the room when I was talking to the doctorsabout the operation, and he saw me crying,” said Mrs. Sartin. “Hetold me that it was all right to go ahead, because God had savedhis life and He was going to take care of him.”

When she heard the confidence in his voice, she knew it would bethe best thing for her then seven-year-old son, who was sufferingfrom Purpura Famin, a condition that causes extreme sores thateventually deplete the skin.

Even though Mrs. Sartin and her four children have attendedchurch regularly for years, she was still astonished by his strongfaith. That was not even the first time Marcus had shown suchassurance about God’s presence in his life.

“When he was in the hospital I didn’t like to leave his room forvery long, but he would tell me not to worry because an angel saton his bed with him and God would talk to him,” said Mrs.Sartin.

Marcus continues to have an optimistic outlook on life, whichhelps him with rehabilitation efforts. He has been fitted withprosthetic legs and is in the process of learning to use them.

His physical therapist, Courtney Owens, has been pleasantlysurprised by how hard Marcus works during his three visits toKing’s Daughters Therapy Center each week.

“He’s very independent. He can get around real well using justhis arms, but he’s eager to learn balance on the prosthetic legs,”she said.

His independence also shows when he’s not in therapy. Marcusdoesn’t allow anyone to help him in school or at home.

“I can do it by myself,” Marcus said to one of his siblings to arecent offer for assistance.

In the classroom, Marcus maneuvers his wheelchair around desksand other obstacles. He completes all his work on his own in MaryDixon’s second grade class at Mamie Martin School.

Even after missing over three months of school work in the fall,Marcus never fell behind his classmates. In fact, he usually leadsthe class in every subject.

“I don’t make Bs, I only make As,” he said with a determinedtone of voice.

The A average he has maintained throughout his education did notfalter by a point when he had to take make-up tests at the end ofthe last semester.

“He made 100 on all of it, even though he was only in school forabout a month before he came down with bacterial meningitis,” saidMrs. Sartin. Doctors haven’t determined how the youngstercontracted the illness

Marcus does not believe his operation will set him back fromreaching his goals of becoming a football player in high school,then a doctor.

He plans to continue making straight As and perfecting hisability to walk and run with prosthetic legs.

His mother also knows determination goes a long way, and she hashigh expectation for their future.

“I was in nursing school when he got sick and I only have a yearleft, so I’ll probably go back as soon as I can,” she said.

She plans on saving enough money to send all of her children,Kiara, Marcus Tiara and Cortez, to college.

The children, who range in age from 7-10, also want to make thatdream come true, so they put a lot of effort into their schoolwork. All of them have maintained honor roll status in school, shesaid.

Mrs. Sartin believes having a strong will has helped her familythrough the last few months, but she gives all the credit to theprayers sent out by the many concerned people in the area.

So many people from Lincoln County and even surrounding countiessent cards, toys and other nice presents to Marcus during hishospital stay.

She was appreciative of everyone’s thoughtfulness and sent thankyou notes to those who showered them with love.

“I tried to thank every person, whether I knew them or not,” shesaid. “I did lose one of my lists somehow, so I left some peopleout. I just hope they know how much it meant.”

Family members and friends are still helping the Sartin familyduring by finding ways to purchase a larger vehicle that cancomfortably hold the children and Marcus’ wheelchair.