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.

The Gift of Bone -Twice!

By Matt Arrasmith, tissue recipient

m-arrasmithLike most boys in middle school, sports were my passion.  I played baseball, basketball, football, ran cross-country and enjoyed pretty much anything where I was active.  When I was in the seventh grade, I began to experience knee pain – but as most teenage boys would be told, it was shrugged off as just growing pains. As the years passed, the pain continued to get worse and finally my parents took me to the doctor where they did an x-ray of my knee.  At first it appeared that nothing was wrong, but thankfully my doctor delved deeper. Little did I know, my world would be turned upside down.

I had just turned 15-years-old, in March of 1996, when I was diagnosed with bone cancer in my leg.  My parents and I were told the particular type of cancer I had, chondrosarcoma, does not respond to chemotherapy and the most common treatment is amputation. This was devastating news. To say that we were matt-grad2stunned was an understatement. This would have meant as a 15-year-old athletic young man, my left leg would have been amputated at the hip.  My life would never be the same.  It is pretty rare that this cancer is contained within the femur but I was told that my tumor was contained. Because of that silver lining, my doctors recommended a brand new procedure.

They suggested that the six-inch portion of my femur containing the tumor be taken out and replaced with donor bone. I underwent three surgeries, including a 12-hour procedure, and then spent about a year on crutches. Today, after a total of six surgeries on my leg, including one in 2011 where I received a second amazing gift of donor bone, I am still walking and enjoying life. And, unfortunately while playing certain sports is no longer an option, I still have my leg!

m-arrasmith-dartsI took part in the 2016 Transplant Games of America, playing Texas Hold ‘em poker, bowling and golf, thanks to the generosity of my donor. It was an awesome experience, meeting people from across the country who have been touched by organ, eye and tissue donation.

I am thankful to all of the doctors that helped drastically change my life. But I am most thankful to my two bone donors – I was incredibly lucky to have had the option of using donor bone to save my leg – and my life as I know it. Won’t you say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation?

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Out of Despair, the Gift of Life

After losing her sister, one writer discovers a sense of peace.

1216 diary essay organ donation plnmph

Karen Abercrombie recently shared insight into her experience with donation after her sister, Julie, passed away. Karen describes how the compassion of the donation community helped her heal and her amazement when she learned about the impact of Julie’s tissue donation. Read more>>

“I was astounded to learn that upward of 80 people’s lives were either saved or enriched by Julie’s donations, including, of course, Carson Palmer’s.”

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