DOWNEY (CBSLA.com)  —  A prosthetics designer and expert whose story inspired the Hollywood movie “A Dolphin Tale” met with local patients Wednesday, free of charge, and changed some lives in the process.

Kevin Carroll, who is based in Florida, met various patients and fitted them with new limbs.

Morgan Freeman played Carroll in the 2011 hit movie about a dolphin named Winter fitted for a prosthetic fin after being caught in a crab trap. For purposes of the movie, Carroll’s name was changed to Dr. Cameron McCarthy.

“When I first heard she had lost her tail,” Carroll says, “I picked up the phone and called the aquarium and said, ‘You know, we put arms and legs on people, why not a tail on a dolphin?’ ”

On Wednesday, he met with various patients at Hanger Clinic in Downey, a leading facility for prosthetics care.

Atzel Escobar of Victorville lost his leg in a workplace accident.

“One day, you’re sitting in your house playing soccer,” he said, “you don’t know what’s going to happen the next day. I went to my job, and that day my accident happened.”

June DiStefano lost her leg in a motorcycle accident 18 years ago.

She explained to Carroll that she wanted to start running again.

“I ran six miles on the morning of my accident. And I explained to him I wanted to run again. And he gets that going,” DiStefano said.

When Carroll travels, he takes with him one of the tails that Winter was fitted with.

He hopes that Winter’s tale — and tail — will inspire his human patients.

“It empowers kids to get up and live their live to the fullest,” he says.

“There’s life after a leg loss,” DiStefano says. “It’s really difficult when it first happens. It’s frustrating, it’s depressing. But eventually you get through it.”

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