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Patty Hovde sits in her living room with friend Joe Baglietto on Monday in her north Fargo home. Hovde's wheelchair was stolen from the front deck of her mobile home. (Michael Vosburg/The Forum)

Soon-to-be amputee makes plea for missing wheelchair

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FARGO - Patty Hovde's chain of unlucky events began four years ago outside Havre, Mont., on a two-lane highway.

After she passed the car in front of her, she had to swerve into the ditch to avoid an oncoming car, shattering both of her ankles on impact.

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One ankle failed to heal, following a succession of operations, including the insertion and removal of metal parts to hold her bones together.

Soon she will lose her right foot, ankle and part of her lower leg - an amputation to spare her from increasing pain and ongoing complications.

Then, to make matters more dire, the 63-year-old recently lost her wheelchair, a bit of bad luck that happened much closer to home.

The wheelchair was taken from the front deck of her mobile home at the Edgewood Mobile Home Court in north Fargo.

"It sickens me that someone would do this to her," Joe Baglietto, a friend who checks in on her, said Monday, adding she can't buy a replacement on her disability income. "We really don't know how to deal with this."

The wheelchair was discovered missing on Mother's Day, as Baglietto was preparing to drive her. He couldn't find it in the car or home.

Hovde waited several days before reporting the loss, in the hope the chair would turn up. It didn't. Somebody wheeled it away and didn't return it.

Most likely, the chair was left out on the deck when several friends visited one evening; Hovde can walk very short distances with the help of a walker.

But that won't be possible after May 28, when Hovde has surgery for the amputation. She has an old steel wheelchair, but it is too heavy, and too wide, for her to use it in her mobile home.

"We're still hoping it's going to show up," Baglietto said. He stressed that they aren't looking for a handout. "Maybe it will be returned. That's all we want."

Hovde added: "Probably some kids were fooling around."

The missing wheelchair, much of it made from aluminum alloy, has her father's nametag on it: Demo Anderson. He's a 91-year-old World War II veteran who lost a leg in France.

Hovde has an appointment to see her doctor today for a pre-op evaluation.

If all goes well, she hopes to be fitted with a prosthesis that will enable her to walk in three or four months.

But in the meantime, at least, she needs a light, compact wheelchair to get around. "I can't go anywhere by myself," Hovde said. "I can't lift the heavier wheelchair."

How to help

Anyone who has information about Patty Hovde's missing compact wheelchair can call her at (701) 235-4881.

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