TISSUE DONATION HELPS HEAL ACTIVE FATHER

BRENT, RECIPIENT OF: ALLOPAC® CORTICAL/CANCELLOUS CHIPS

A bulging disc and broken bone in his back kept Brent from participating in Boy Scouts of America events with his son, one of their favorite ways to spend time together.

The pain in his back and leg became so severe he could not stand or walk for longer than 10 – 20 minutes at a time. The constant pain took a toll on his life and it was difficult for Brent to serve as an assistant scoutmaster with his son’s Boy Scout troop. To ease his debilitating pain, Brent underwent a posterior lumbar spinal fusion. Doctors used AlloPac® cortical/cancellous chips in the procedure.

“I could tell as soon as I was able to get up and around that the surgery was successful because my pain was gone,” he said.

After Brent’s recovery, he has returned to all of the activities his injury prevented him from doing.

“The transplant has completely changed my daily life,” said Brent. “I am able to walk and stand for long lengths of time without pain. I have been able to go on campouts, extended summer camps and hikes that before I would never have been able to do because of the pain.” Brent is thankful for the donated bone that played a crucial role in his surgery and has helped him recover.

“I am grateful that someone was thoughtful enough to donate tissue so someone like me could have a chance to be able to do the things I thought I never would.”

When asked what he would say to his donor, if he could, Brent appreciates the gift of donation. “I would say thank you for being willing to donate and know that I am so very thankful to have had the chance to receive the donation that changed my way of life. Your unselfishness is overwhelming.”

TISSUE RECIPIENT FINDS STRENGTH ONCE MORE

KATRIN, RECIPIENT OF ACHILLES TENDON ALLOGRAFT

Katrin describes her injury as affecting her life in every way. The normally active athlete was playing soccer when her ACL partially tore. Not realizing the extent of the injury, Katrin continued to play sports despite the increasing pain.

“During my first surgery, a huge piece of my medial meniscus was removed and it turned out that my ACL was completely torn. Ten months later I had to have my ACL replaced in order to prevent further injuries to my knee,” said Katrin. It was before her second surgery when Katrin realized an achilles tendon from a deceased donor would be saving her knee.

Describing  herself as “flushed with drugs,” the impact of what the doctor told her didn’t settle in until later. While recovering, Katrin was focused on healing to the best of her ability. Though she describes the process as painful, this period also gave her time to reflect on her choice of using donated tissue. “I was thinking about this a lot when I made my decision to choose a tissue transplant from a deceased donor.

“I feel grateful that tissue transplants are available and that there are people who make the decision to become a donor,” Katrin said. Three weeks after surgery, Katrin began walking without crutches. Nine weeks after that, she was able to run again. “I feel very blessed to be able to continue my active lifestyle.

There is not one day when I exercise that I am not grateful for being able to do the things that my heart desires to do such as running in the morning and snowboarding on the weekends,” said Katrin. Because of the gift she received, Katrin is now an advocate for organ and tissue donaton.

“I am a registered donor and always strongly believed that this was how I could enhance and save many people’s lives when I am no longer here,” said Katrin. Though Katrin does not know the family of her donor, she often thinks of them and hopes they know what a tremendous gift they gave her.

“I know thank you is not nearly enough to show how grateful I am for their decision to donate. I want them to know that there is not one day when I start running in the morning that I do not think about how grateful I am to be able to live life to the fullest. So again, thank you.”


TISSUE RECIPIENT THANKFUL FOR EVERY EXPERIENCE FOLLOWING TRANSPLANT

In 2008, Judy underwent hip surgery to correct a labral tear and noticed some of her fellow patients seemed to be recovering more quickly than she was.

She started experiencing pain on the back of her thigh and soon learned a tumor had developed. Her life changed in an instant when she was diagnosed with cancer.

Judy underwent an intense course of chemotherapy for two years and remained on crutches for the duration of her treatment. Her surgeon, Dr. Ross Wilkins, believed he could save her leg by using a donated bone in place of her own.

In the midst of chemotherapy, Dr. Wilkins removed the tumor from Judy’s leg and replaced eight inches of her femur with bone from a deceased human donor.

Because chemotherapy can interfere with bone healing, Judy ended up needing a revision surgery and received additional tissue in the repair procedure.

After completing treatment, Judy, her kids and her mother took a trip to Costa Rica.

“I dreamed about getting all the way to the water’s edge, but my crutches sank in the sand and I couldn’t get all the way down to the beach,” she said. “I still took a photo with the water in the distance, and I sent the photo to Dr. Wilkins. It was a great accomplishment for me just to be there, and I wanted to share that with the man that made it happen.”

The following year, she took another trip to the beach and was able to finally put her toes in the sand.“I took a picture of my toes all sandy and the crystal blue water in the background,” Judy shared. “I keep that picture on display in my house so I am always reminded to be thankful for my leg, my medical team and my donor.”

Because of this life-changing experience, Judy is now an advocate for tissue donation. Her young children learned about tissue donation at an early age, having watched their mother’s recovery process.

Judy honors her donor by donating time to The Limb Preservation Foundation and Donor Alliance to share her story of healing and hope. She expressed, in her own words, what she would say to her donor if she could.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to keep my leg. Thank you for letting me put my ten toes in the sand. Thank you for the chance to play tennis and take a tap dance class. I have loved the chance to travel and run around with my children. Because of you, I am here living this life, and I can’t thank you enough.”

ACL-TRANSPLANT RETURNS MONTANA WOMAN TO MANAGING COUNTRY FAIR

A Case Study by AlloSource: Doing More with Life

Connie eagerly anticipated her adult son’s visit home for Christmas in 2009. During his visit, he teamed up with his former classic rock band for a reunion show at a local pub. Connie’s family, as well as the family of another band member, were excited to be together for the holidays and were enjoying the show. Suddenly, trouble broke out in the pub. “An argument erupted behind me,” Connie said. “I stood up to move to the other side of the table but my snow boot caught on the rung of the chair just as one man pushed another into me, knocking me over.”

Shortly thereafter, as Connie was still lying on the floor, a large man fell onto her legs. Connie sustained serious injuries: her left leg was broken and her right ACL was blown out. Aside from the pain and day-to-day struggles that dealing with two injured legs presented, Connie’s injuries also meant she could not adequately do her job, which she had a great passion for. After serving as Montana’s property tax supervisor for 30 years, Connie was at the time working as the local county fair manager. Although the work was taxing (including everything from negotiating entertainment contracts to cleaning horse stalls), she absolutely loved it.

As a full year passed after the injury, Connie’s broken leg was casted and healed. She wore a brace on her right knee with the injured ACL, and knew her options for that leg were either to live with the injury in a brace for the rest of her life, or try an ACL transplant, using donated tissue from a deceased human donor. Eager to resume an active lifestyle and work for the county fair, Connie opted for the transplant.

The surgery didn’t require any large incisions, only 4 small holes where instruments expanded the skin around Connie’s knee for viewing and working. Doctors performed meniscus reconstruction and then anchored the donated tendon diagonally from her tibia to femur. Following the surgery Connie was excited to get her leg back into working order. However, she was tired of the frequent doctor visits from the past year, and wasn’t pleased with the prospect of having to return again for physical therapy. Instead, she set up her own therapy routine at home.


“After a few harrowing days in a recliner I got on an exercise bike. I began slowly pedaling in front of the TV, an hour each morning and night. I had quite a setup. Morning Sudoku and coffee while pedaling to the Today Show, herbal tea and a sitcom at night,” she said.


And the training worked; Connie’s doctors were very pleased with her gradual improvement in range of motion. By Spring of 2010, after a year of working from home, Connie was elated to be able to get back to the fairgrounds and the work she loves. “It’s now been one and a half years since my transplant. I still get a little stiff if I don’t stay active, but I recently finished my second summertime county fair since surgery and reports from the public are that this was the best one in years,” she said.

Connie reflects on the gift of life that allowed her to return to work with earnestness and appreciation. “I believe the body is the human’s earthly vessel. Our deceased loved ones are hopefully in a wonderful place; their tissue is no longer needed by them. I honor whoever is selfless enough to understand that,” Connie said. “We offer an unused blanket to a shivering homeless man, food to a starving child, spare change to a simple benefit drive or money in the collection plate at church.

We give. It’s an odd feeling for me to be a recipient of any such gift because I’ve always been more of a giver, but I feel humbled in knowing someone gave tissue to me when I was in need.” Connie is a registered organ, tissue and bone marrow donor. “As the old saying goes, if one life can breathe easier because of me, then I’ve gained my own measure of success. If I could speak to my donor I would say: thank you for helping to make people at a small county fair smile. You’re a success.