Losing a limb to amputation can be very difficult and experts say some patients experience different stages of grief when coping. Greenville Shriners Hospital has started the Forever Footprints initiative, which allows patients to create a mold of the limb they will lose, so they can have a remembrance of it.

"It's like grieving, they are losing a part of themselves," said Elaine Hardin, Child Life Specialist at Shriners. Hardin and staff developed the idea to make 3D molds of patients' limbs. They had formerly made plaster molds, but failed to create a 3D effect. Using a substance called alginate, staff is able to mold the patients' limb, usually a foot, and create a very detailed sculpture of the soon-to-be-lost appendage.

"What we are wanting to do is carry them through and help them cope until they can get their prosthetic foot," said Hardin. "We feel like the foot mold helps them psychologically."

Elena Williams, 12, was scheduled to have her foot amputated Wednesday. Tuesday, she was able to make a mold of her foot, which she will lose due to an ongoing condition.

Her mother, Jennifer Williams, said the mold is even helping Elena's parents cope.

"I know it's gonna help her out, it's gonna help all of us out..seeing it and not feeling like we are losing anything...we are just growing. She's growing," said Williams.

The Forever Footprints initiative is possible through donations. To find out more, visit Greenville Shriner Hospital's website.

Copyright 2016 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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