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Teen who survived gunshot to the head gets new robotic device for paralyzed arm

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Deserae Turner, left, talks about a new robotic arm she now has during an interview Monday, March 15, 2021. Turner got the arm to help her recovery from injuries from a bullet wound to the head she sustained in February 2017.

Mike Anderson, Deseret News

AMALGA, Cache County — Deserae Turner, a Cache Valley teenager who survived a bullet wound to the head in February 2017, is now getting used to a robotic arm to help her recovery.

This is a pretty exciting time for Turner and her family, and it comes just as she is starting a new job as a hostess at a Logan restaurant.

Turner was shot by two classmates who lured her into a canal. She’s gone through more than a dozen medical procedures since then. She lost vision in her left eye and continues to go through physical therapy. Her left arm is paralyzed.

With winter showing signs of ending in rural Amalga, Turner entered into a sort of springtime for her own life.

“I’m like, ‘I’m an adult, guys,” she said. “Look at me! I’m doing so good!’”

She is almost 19 years old and is brimming with excitement and gaining more independence.

“My arm, it still has the same movement. It’s still weak,” she explained.

The limb has had very little movement but that will soon change as Turner learns how to use what she called her “expensive new toy.”

“God gave me this personality of don’t quit, never give up. And I can really thank him for giving me what I needed to accomplish these challenges,” she said.

She’s grateful, not only to God but to so many strangers who donated to help this cause. The family still paid a decent chunk of the total cost, but they could not have done this without the community.

“I wish I could give everybody a big hug,” Turner said. She is working on another way to thank them all.

“My amazing neighbors came and planted me some plants right when the day I came home and I loved them,” she said.

She and her family are planting hundreds of flowers.

“All along that fence is irises,” she described excitedly. “Plants are amazing, they can survive through a hailstorm.”

She’s gained an unexpected appreciation for them. They are resilient, just like Turner. She would like couples to drop by, maybe on a date, and walk away with some flowers of their own.

She said “it makes me happy. I hope it makes them happy.”

Turner took one other step toward adulthood. She just filed her papers to become a service missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She said she wants to serve in the Cache Valley.