Kansas amputee gets surprise holiday gift: Electronic hands

In this May 2, 2016, photo, Julie Dombo uses a cuff around her wrist to help her eat. Dombo whose hands and feet had to be amputated after she was shot during a robbery got an early Christmas gift — new electronic hands worth $260,000, courtesy of a businessman and his wife.
(Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP)
In this May 2, 2016, photo, Julie Dombo uses a cuff around her wrist to help her eat. Dombo whose hands and feet had to be amputated after she was shot during a robbery got an early Christmas gift — new electronic hands worth $260,000, courtesy of a businessman and his wife. (Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle via AP)

DERBY, Kan. (AP) – A southern Kansas woman whose hands and feet had to be amputated after she was shot during a robbery got an early Christmas gift – new electronic hands worth $260,000, courtesy of a businessman and his wife.

Julie Dombo of Derby showed off her new hands Tuesday with her husband, a day after receiving them as a present from Koch Industries’ general counsel Mark Holden and his wife, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Dombo was shot in the arm and chest during an August 2015 robbery at a Derby AT&T store. Because of medical issues that developed from the injuries while she was hospitalized doctors had to amputate portions of her arms and legs to save her life. James Michael Phillips, 27, was sentenced to about 31 years after being convicted in October of several charges in the case, including attempted first-degree murder.

Dombo met Holden in October at a Wichita Crime Commission awards banquet, where she told Holden insurance wouldn’t pay for the electronic hands she said would give her a chance at a relatively ordinary life, The Wichita Eagle reported. The hands allow her to grip objects, to work an iPhone and to put on her prosthetic legs.

Without the hands, Dombo’s husband, John, has to be with her most of the time to help her.

Dombo has been working out with the hands once a week since May at Peeple’s Prosthetics so that if the money ever came through, she’d know how to use the hands, which retail for about $260,000.

“I’ll do what I can,” Holden told her that night at the banquet.

Holden traveled back to Washington, D.C., told his wife and son about Dombo and contacted someone who knew U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo of Wichita. Holden wanted to see if Pompeo could talk with the insurance company. But when Holden attended Phillips’ sentencing hearing he learned that Blue Cross hadn’t changed its decision.

“I promise you I will get your sister the arms,” Holden told Dombo’s sister Linda. “We’re going to get them.”

Holden later told Dombo his wife wanted to meet her. So the Dombos invited the Holdens over for lunch Monday when Mark Holden arrived carrying two big boxes with the prosthetic hands he and his wife bought for her.

Dombo saw the boxes and started to cry.

“Merry Christmas,” Holden said.