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Recipient Stories

One Tissue Recipient Takes her Gratitude Back to the Slopes

In the mountains of Crested Butte, Colorado, my family and I were spending a white Christmas skiing and snowboarding. The trip was the first time the Thompsons were all together for a holiday in five years, and we were looking forward to spending every possible minute on the mountain. Doctors later said muscle stress and exhaustion from extensive skiing may have contributed to the accident.

On the last day of our trip, December 28, 2009, my brother Jeremy and I were on our way down the final run, ready to take the lift up to the lodge to meet our family. My competitive brother was making fun of my leisurely ski pace as I took my time. Even so, the glaring sun on the white powder made the intricacies of the blue run difficult to see. Seeing Jeremy in front of me, and the lift ahead, I lost focus. One foot went up over a bump in the snow and the other stayed flat on the snow’s surface. My left foot stayed put, digging into the snow, while my body went the other direction.  I never heard the fateful ‘pop’ characteristic of a torn ACL, but the instability of my knee gave away the injury. I had, in fact, torn my ACL, on the same exact run my mom had torn hers the year before.

Upon returning home to Chicago for an MRI, I met with an orthopedic surgeon who gave me the option of receiving donor tissue for my surgery. In awe, I asked details about the gift that would allow me to walk again.

I received donated tissue in my knee on February 8, 2010. My doctor described the area behind my kneecap as a war zone, a technically severe ACL case, because the injury destroyed all remaining tendon in my left knee. Dr. Daniel Nuber said without the surgery, I would never be able to walk without a brace again, let alone ski, play sports, or enjoy the active life I loved. Thanks to my tissue donor, my knee now functions as if it were my own. A year after my injury, back on the ski slopes with renewed strength, I blew a kiss to my donor who allowed me to regain my life.

I am currently in the process of finding out how to contact my donor’s family, as I am eager to share my gratitude with them.  My injury and recovery brought the unexpected realization that the capacity to selflessly help others lies within each of us. I keep my donor and the enlightenment he/she provided with me every day, inspiring my optimistic view on life.

Tissue donation heals millions of people each year. My donor’s gift of tissue is the reason I can walk today. Be a hero and say “Yes” to donation! Register here as an organ, eye and tissue donor.


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