By Julia Crumpleman
Wealthy socialite, Tanya Morales, daughter of famous actor Antonio Morales, is known more for late-night exploits than her social awareness. But the Dino-Day Disaster changed all that as she explained to Oprah Winfrey for a special on OWN.
“I was turned into a stegosaurus,” Morales said, “and I was stuck in my apartment on the 56th floor of the Walton Tower. I was so big that I couldn’t go down the stairs or the elevator, so I was stuck.” Along with hundreds of other people inside Walton Tower, Morales had to remain in her apartment until she was changed back into a human. Unfortunately, all the extra weight from her and the other people had destabilized the beams below her, and the floor collapsed.
“I fell down about 10-15 stories,” she said, “but it felt like 100 stories. I landed on a pile of people (still dinosaurs), and then we were really stuck. Every time one of us tried to move, we could hear something creek, like another beam was about to give way.” A few of the smaller people were able to squeeze out, she said, and thankfully, they landed on the 40th floor. Every 20th story in the Walton Tower, and in most skyscrapers in New Romford, is reinforced with titanium, by law, to prevent further collapsing for cases such as this. “Still, we didn’t really know that,” she said. “We were all so scared to move because we didn’t know what was going to happen.”
The collapse happened late in the night of the DDD, and by morning, they had turned back to human. But unbeknownst to them, they were supporting several beams with their added weight and mass, and when they lost that, the beams came falling down on them. Luckily, no one died in the Walton Tower, but everyone was critically injured. Morales’s legs were pinned down under a beam. Rescue robots were able to get her and everyone else to safety, but when she arrived at the hospital, Morales’s legs were horribly infected. They had to be amputated to save her life.
“I just cried and cried,” she said with tears flowing from her eyes. “I just never thought something like this could happen to me.” Amputation turned out to be a common procedure in the wake of the DDD. 239 people had to have at least one limb amputated. At New Romford General Hospital, where most of the amputations took place, including her own, Morales saw the toll it took on families less privileged than her own.
“I am blessed,” she said. “My family is wealthy, and we can afford to buy cybernetics to replace my legs. I could very easily get the latest model and walk and run and be stronger than I ever was. But I just couldn’t do it. Cybernetic limbs are incredibly expensive. They cost at least half a million dollars for one limb, and then there’s the lifetime maintenance and repair costs that push it up into the millions. I was in the hospital for a week, and I got to know my fellow amputees, and I just couldn’t get cybernetics and walk out of there. I just couldn’t do it.”
Instead, much to the chagrin of her parents, Morales decided to not only refuse cybernetics, but to refuse prosthetics of any kind. “Normal prosthetics are useful, but they don’t allow the user to have the sensation to touch or feel temperature,” she said. “And that’s important for people, important for them to feel whole again, or at least as whole as they can. We’re in such a technologically advanced society that we should be working to make cybernetics more accessible to everyone, not just the wealthy and superheroes.”
Because of that, Morales is starting a new foundation, The Cybernetics Project, with the sole intent of pushing for cheaper cybernetics by developing new technologies and reducing supply costs. The Cybernetics Project already has the backing of New Romford University, ATOM Labs, Dr. Amazing, and Thomas McDowell, who will be the primary benefactor. “I’m humbled to have so much support for my foundation,” said Morales. “This project is now my life’s goal, and I will work hard every day to make cybernetics cheaper for everyone.”
As for her legs, Morales sees them as a symbol. “Being confined to a wheelchair has been incredibly difficult for me,” she said, “and I’ve only been in one for a few weeks, but it’s given me perspective. This world, and in particular this city, was built for able-bodied people. But I still plan on living my life. Wherever I go, I’ll always be advocating for the disabled, and my legs will be a remainder to everyone of that. And until my foundation reaches its goal, I will remain in my wheelchair.”