My name is Hyla Hope Harder. I was born June 1, 1943. At that time no one said ABS or Constriction Band Syndrome so my parents were only told that my left hand and right foot had “gotten caught” in my mother’s womb. The large toe on my foot and the toe next to the large toe had gone into necrosis from strangulation so the day after I was born, one and 1/2 toes had to be amputated.
I had the two most wonderful parents in the world. They had waited a long time for me to come into their world so they lavished love and support on me. The doctors had told my parents that I had poor blood supply in my left hand (which was untrue) and my parents rigorously guarded my hand and foot from possible injuries. When I was ten years old they took me to Chicago to see the president of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons to see if my hand should be operated on. Luckily the doctor told them that I was so at ease with the way my hand looked that surgery for mere cosmetic effect was not a wise choice since my hand could get infected, etc.
I never knew until a few months ago what my condition was called. I happened on your website today and was astonished to learn that children have died of ABS. I feel incredibly blessed that my condition was only in my hand and foot. I can truthfully say I am a better person for having ABS. When I started first grade, children made fun of me. I remember thinking Mother and Daddy mustn’t know about this because they would be hurt. I was not hurt by it but they would have been. I made up my mind that I would never judge any one by any physical appearance. I look to the heart and the mind and the spirit when I see someone. I believe that ABS has greatly influenced my outlook on life.
I want with every fiber of my being to be able some day to stretch out both hands to God and tell My Creator that I never hurt a person or an animal with my hands. To me the truly deformed hands are the ones which harm another living creature. My hand may not look like other left hands but as long as it is kind and tries to follow God’s Laws, it can attain its own level of spiritual beauty.
Thank you for your website. I have been richly blessed and ABS has been part of my blessings. I want to sponsor one of the forgotten children mentioned on your website. Please keep on doing the wonderful work you are doing!
Hyla Hope Harder, Ph.D.