BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - At first glance, you wouldn't think 35-year-old Dr. Brandy Duhon was living without what some might deem necessary in life. If you look a little closer, you'll see that Dr. Duhon is a veterinarian without hands.
"Whenever I applied to vet school, I'm sure they were like okay. This girl with no hands is applying to vet school. What's going on here?" she said.
In 1995, at 13 years old, Dr. Duhon contracted bacterial meningitis.
"I was very ill. I was in the hospital for about 4 months and both of my hands were amputated," she said.
Duhon's right heel was also removed because of the infection. However, she quickly healed and adapted to her new life without hands.
Dr. Duhon said with the encouragement of her family, she could still dream of pursuing a career in the medical field.
"There's nothing like having your own team rooting for you, no matter what you're trying to do or what you're trying to be," said Dr. Duhon.
But at 18 years old, a week before the beginning of her senior year in high school, the future vet was sick again. This time with spinal meningitis.
"I'm very fortunate. I know it sounds weird that I'm very fortunate and what has happened to me. I think it was an experience not only for myself but for my family that a lot of people can try to prevent," she said.
Dr. Duhon said she wasn't routinely vaccinated as suggested when she was younger and she doesn't know if the vaccines would have prevented the infections. However, since August is national immunization month, she's using her lesson learned as advice for parents and inspiration for children.
"At least you can say I did give the vaccine and we did try," she said. "I just want to prevent anyone from having to go down the road I went. Not saying that I'm not fortunate. I am fortunate."
As you can see, Dr. Duhon didn't allow her shortcomings to stop her from following her dreams of caring for animals, more specifically those at animal shelters. "Because there's nothing like telling someone I don't have any hands but I'm a vet," said Duhon.
She graduated from Louisiana State University's Veterinary School in 2013 and was a shelter medicine fellow for two years before becoming a shelter medicine surgeon and clinical instructor at LSU.
"My motto throughout life is just because I do something differently doesn't mean that I can't do it as well as someone else can," she said.
It's important to note that Dr. Duhon said she has prosthetic hands but opts out of using them. Why, do you ask?
"I wanted people to realize you can do anything that you want to do," she said.
The Louisiana Department of Health said the first recommended meningitis vaccine is required for ages 11-12. The booster MenACWY is recommended at 16 years old and required for college.
Experts said children ranging in age from 16-18 may get a MenB vaccine at the discretion of their physician.