Today we are pleased to offer this story as a part of Donate Life America’s “I Am Hope” initiative, in which a new story about donation or transplantation is shared each day of 2012. This story shows how donated tissue can truly change and enhance someone’s life.
It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving when Kathryn’s life took an unexpected turn. Prior to that day, she was the epitome of an active individual. She was a runner, a yoga enthusiast, a horseback rider and an artist who painted and sculpted large pieces. Her active lifestyle was threatened however, when on that Sunday in 2004 Kathryn fell two stories from a ladder, shattering her leg.
“It was completely and totally shattered. The doctor told me he stopped counting after two dozen pieces of bone,” she said.
As a market researcher, Kahtryn had worked in the donation industry, even doing research for the tissue bank that provided her allograft bone.
“I knew that I would probably need donor bone, so I asked specifically about it,” said Kathryn. “In my fever and drug-induced state, I asked the doctor if he planned to use donor bone and if so, whose it was. He responded with, ‘Who are you?’”
Though the main injury was her shattered leg, Kathryn’s body responded to the inflammation caused by the fall with a fever of over 104 degrees.
“They kept me in the hospital for a week because my fever was so high,” she said. “I was packed in ice until my fever lowered, so they could go ahead with the surgery.”
Once her fever was down, Kahtryn was in the operating room for five hours as doctors repaired her leg. All doctors could tell her was that she would walk again. Running and yoga like she was accustomed however, was still in question.
“The recovery was horrible and very painful,” said Kathryn. “My leg swelled up to four times its size.”
To cope with being on crutches for five months, she continued to do yoga with one leg. When those five months came to an end, she finally started walking again.
“Ultimately, I healed very successfully,” she said. “The accident happened at the end of 2004, by May of 2005 I was walking and six months after that, I started jogging again.”
Though Kathryn was already a registered donor and familiar with the donation industry, she felt especially motived after her surgery.
“Even if I didn’t know the industry, I would be a huge advocate for donation based on the results of my surgery alone,” she said.
A year after she received donor bone, Hart was back to running, yoga, painting and sculpting.
“The decision these donor families make is a really, really big one,” said Kathryn. “Because of the person and family who donated this bone, I am allowed to live my life in the unique way that only I can. Each of us has a special gift to give, and I can give mine thanks to this donor.”