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'Try to stay positive': Fundraiser planned for Billings man following double amputation

Leon Huschka with his OT, Will Meredith
Posted at 5:14 PM, May 16, 2024

BILLINGS — On Saturday, a special fundraiser called Limbs for Leon will be held at MetraPark’s Montana Pavillion to help a Billings man who suffered the amputation of his left arm and leg following a severe head-on collision.

The accident happened last July, just 14 miles outside of Billings, when Leon Huschka was struck head-on by a semi-truck while riding his motorcycle at 75 miles per hour. Now, 10 months later, he’s on the mend.

Leon Huschka
Leon Huschka

"I don't have any recollection of that day," Hoschka told MTN News on Thursday.

The trauma of Huschka’s accident has been wiped from his memory.

"It's just weird that I can't even remember how the day started,” said Hoschka.

He was traveling to Helena to meet up with his wife, Michelle. The two have been together for 12 years but tied the knot last year before the accident occurred.

"I left town at about 6:30 and I still hadn't heard from him. Usually, when he's on his motorcycle when he stops for gas, he'll text me and just tell me where he's at,” Michelle told MTN on Thursday. "And I hadn't heard from him."

Michelle Huschka
Michelle Huschka

Michelle grew increasingly worried after not hearing from Leon.

"I had a bad feeling," Michelle recalled.

Her instinct was unfortunately spot on.

"Nobody was to blame. It was nobody's fault, and it was just a tragic moment in a day that forever changed his life,” said Laura O'Bleness, a family friend of the Huschka's, on Thursday. "It's a testament to wear your helmet, for you motorcycle riders."

Laura O'Bleness
Laura O'Bleness

Michelle’s brother was able to track him down at Intermountain Health St. Vincent Regional Hospital in Billings.

"He was just coming out of a four-hour surgery. He lost his leg at the scene. My family arranged for somebody to drive me back from Helena because I was in no state to drive back,” Michelle said. "I got here at 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. That was the first time that I saw him, and he was in a coma at that point."

Michelle and Leon
Michelle and Leon

Leon's injuries were extensive.

"He was in critical condition. He was in hemoglobin shock, so he had lost a lot of blood. He had sustained a traumatic amputation of the lower extremity and severely mangled extremity of the left upper extremity,” said Dr. Brian Drake, an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Ortho Montana, on Wednesday. "Highly commutated, damaged right humerus fracture, numerous, you know, soft tissue abrasions and lacerations."

Dr. Brian Drake
Dr. Brian Drake

Dr. Drake and his team took on the case.

"We were able to get him rapidly up to the (operating room) and control his bleeding and obtain hemostasis and start stabilizing his injuries,” Drake said. "We have something called the 'Golden Hour', which is in the very first hour of their injury. It's the most important period of time to try to get somebody stabilized. And how they are treated in that first hour can often be the difference between somebody being able to live or die from such an injury. And fortunately, having a hospital like St. Vincent Medical Center here, we provide all the services that are needed."

He remained in the ICU for 25 days in a coma and was then transferred down to the general floor of the hospital to continue his recovery before moving on to rehabilitation.

Limbs for Leon
Limbs for Leon

"It was truly amazing hearing the stories from everybody when I was in the coma there," Leon said.

He never lost hope of recovery.

"His work ethic is amazing. So that sets the foundation as well,” said Will Meredith, Leon's occupational therapist at St. Vincent Regional Hospital Outpatient Therapy, on Thursday. "It's a culmination of the person that you're working with and the people that are surrounding you, both professionally and personally."

Will Meredith
Will Meredith

But this January, a difficult decision had to be made to amputate Leon’s left arm after his pain persisted.

"This is a huge process, both psychologically and physically," Meredith said. "His ability to work through those and continue to work through those is apparent in the strides that he's made and where he is today."

He was then fitted with a robotic prosthetic arm that he’s now working on getting used to.

Leon with his robotic prosthetic arm
Leon with his robotic prosthetic arm

"Good learning process," Leon said. "We don't have a lot of time on it, but we're progressing pretty good."

This Saturday, ‘Limbs for Leon’ at the MetraPark Montana Pavilion will take place in an attempt to assist Leon with the costs of his prosthetics.

"This is something we are able to do for them and pay them back for their generosity and kindness to us,” O'Bleness said. "(Leon and Michelle are) awesome. They are generous, they're kind, they're loving, and they are well-deserving of any assistance that we can give. Because obviously there's so little that we feel that we can do."

Laura, Leon, Michelle
Laura, Leon, Michelle

O'Bleness wanted to thank those who were at the scene last July.

"We really want to thank the people that were on site. There were angels that day," O'Bleness said. "There was a gentleman that used his own belt and a safety vest that tourniqueted his leg and his arm."

Which means the world to Leon, who credits much of his recovery to his support system.

Leon Huschka with his OT, Will Meredith
Leon Huschka with his OT, Will Meredith

"This whole thing has been a test of patience, which I've never had much patience in the past. But we try to stay positive," Leon said. "With the support of friends and family, I think I owe it to them to work hard and get back to normal."

He’s looking forward to getting back to doing what he loves most.

Leon walking with Will
Leon walking with Will

"Fishing and hunting. So I got to learn how to do all that again," Leon said. "It's going to be a little different, but we'll be all right."

To learn more about 'Limbs for Leon', click here.