Lincoln toddler defies the odds walking with prosthetic legs for the first time

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- One little girl in Lincoln is the first person with a rare congenital disease to ever walk, and she's only three.

Emberlyn was told by doctors that she would most likely never have feeling below her spine. Forcing her mother to decide whether or not to amputate both of her 1-year-old daughter's legs.

She said it was the hardest but best decision she's ever made. Since getting her first prostheses in September, Emberlyn'S therapist at Madonna said her progress has been amazing.

"I never thought she was going to be in prosthesis. Like, this right here, is a dream come true. Not only for me but also for her," said Emberlyn's mom Joanie Hemmer.

Emberlyn was diagnosed with Caudal Regression Syndrome type 4, or webbed legs, when she was still in the womb.

"In one study there's 1 in 9 people in the world, and in another study there's 1 in 12 people in the world that has the type she has," said Joanie.

The toddler had surgery to amputate her legs when she was only a year old. And now she is learning to live a normal 3-year-old life with prosthetics.

Her therapist at Madonna, Angie Gerner, said, "our goals for therapy are dynamic standing balance, functional play, cruising abilities, basically inside the home allowing her to be functional with her parents and her brothers and sisters".

Emberlyn spends two sessions a week at Madonna Rehabilitation Lincoln campus gaining strength with a walker. But also playing on a jungle gym.

"She now can just stand with stand by assist with a therapist. Playing along a bench, along our playground structure, she does all of that independently now," said Gerner.

Her mom Joanie said the therapy is changing Emberlyn's life.

"Oh my gosh the therapy has been tremendous. It has helped her get around, it's helped her become more independent. It's helped her feel like a 3-year-old girl, her confidence," said Joanie.

But her therapist said a lot of the progress is because of Emberlyn's resilience.

"She just doesn't let this get to her. She wants to have fun she wants to play and she wants to be a part of everything. She just doesn't sit aside, doesn't let anything get her down and she just keeps going, that's what's amazing about her," said Gerner.

Emberlyn has already done far more than many doctor's thought she would. Up next she will start preschool in the fall, and her mom said from there, the sky is the limit.