Local paramedic to speak at national conference about struggles - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local paramedic to speak at national conference about his medical struggle

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- We first caught up with Joe Riffe in February of this year.

"It's been a long ride, but I'm happy to be back here though," Riffe said at the time.

He was back on the job as a paramedic working for Rural/Metro Ambulance.

Two years before, Riffe injured himself hiking, falling 110 feet.

His leg was amputated and he eventually got this technologically advanced prosthetic leg, but he had to fight for it.

"Initially the insurance company that I had, they refused everything. They just said, until you put a knee on him that we approve, we're not going to give you any prosthetic at all," says Joe Riffe.

He received massive support through social media, and his insurance company eventually gave in.

Riffe joined together with other amputees to take the fight to Frankfort, supporting House Bill 376.

"Where if your doctor writes a prescription and you meet the qualifications for a certain prosthetic limb, you get it," says Joe Riffe.

The bill didn't pass, but Riffe says the fight isn't over.

He has now been accepted as an "e-patient", who will speak at Stanford University's Medicine X conference this month, which brings in people from across the world.

"I'll be speaking on my fight with the insurance companies to get my leg approved and how with the right technology how it benefits patients," says Joe Riffe.

The conference helps to come up with new ideas about the future of medicine and health care.

Riffe believes the future for amputees is very bright.

"Just recently there was a soldier that has had an arm transplant done literally where they took a cadaver arm and transplanted it onto his body and he has function in it now," says Joe Riffe.

He's hoping his own fight during the past 2 years will inspire others in attendance to get involved with their own care, and to not give up hope.

"There's leaps and bounds being made in this field and it's getting to the point now to where the limitations that people place on you aren't there, so now it's just breaking the stigma and stereotype associated with it and getting people to realize that a loss of a limb isn't a loss of a life," says Joe Riffe.

The conference will be held later this month.

Conference officials will pay for Riffe's hotel, but he's started a fundraiser to pay for his airfare to get there.

For more information, click here.

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