EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

November 5, 2013

Teen plays tennis, despite loss of arm

Teen keeps swinging after losing part of her arm

HAMPSTEAD — Receiving an award in any sport is quite an honor. But for Hampstead resident Paige Welch, the odds she would ever be able to even participate in sports was a long shot.

Paige, 17, had her left arm amputated following a boating accident in Trinidad in August 2009. Four years later, she received the coach’s award from tennis coach Gerry Rosado at Pinkerton Academy for her effort and determination.

“It’s something I can be proud of,” Paige said.

She was kayaking in Trinidad with mom Racquel and cousin Lance Aqui when disaster struck. Their kayak was smashed by a powerboat operated by an impaired driver. The propeller of the speedboat severed Welch’s arm, and there was fear for her life because she lost so much blood.

“The Coast Guard had expected to pick up corpses, but, fortunately, all of us survived,” Paige said.

Racquel had broken bones in her arm and back, as well as tears in her shoulder, leg and eye. Aqui’s foot was seriously cut in the accident.

But the focus was on Paige.

“She went through so much physically,” her mother said. “Knowing that she needed me, I didn’t even feel any pain, I just ignored it.”

Paige was stabilized at a nearby hospital, then flown to Boston Children’s Hospital to be treated.

“They tried their best to save the arm, but, unfortunately, it started rotting, it would have eventually been infected,” she said.

Paige stayed in the hospital for a month. She missed six months of school, but was able to complete all her work from home and complete eighth grade on time.

After the accident, Paige received support from her friends, family and more.

“We got letters from people all over the world,” she said. “The trouble was having to translate them.”

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