Samantha has always led a very active lifestyle. This love of motion encouraged her to join the ARMY as a combat medic in 2000. This work is not for the faint of heart, as it involved a lot of lifting and moving, putting added pressure on her knees and joints. She started to notice some minor aches and pains in her knees early on, but the real injury was yet to happen.
In 2002, a private injured his leg while engaging in a training drill. He was immediately transferred to the medic tent where Samantha and other combat medics got to work with helping him. The stretcher they were using to transport him was a bit rickety and it bucked under the weight of the soldier. Samantha was standing at the base of the stretcher when the soldier came rapidly sliding toward her. He hit her knees directly, and ended up dislocating both of them in the process. Her journey with knee trouble began.
Samantha continued to run (as best she could), but her knees never got better. As the years went on, the condition of her knees deteriorated. This was a source of a lot of stress as staying active, running, and playing with her children equaled sanity in her eyes. “Running normalizes everything in my body. If I don’t run, I become irritable, scatterbrained, and generally unhappy. I need running. Running helps me be the person I want to be” Says Samantha.
She spent 7 years trying to find a surgeon who did not want to do total knee replacement. “I didn’t want to be cut open, it all seemed so extreme” Samantha explains “I didn’t want to have a knee replacement and then have to have ANOTHER knee replacement in 20 years”. Finally, she met Dr. Green. He agreed to use donor tissue to help reconstruct her knee. She received her first surgery on October 22, 2013 and her second surgery on March 4th 2014.
Since the surgeries, Samantha has made a full recovery. She can go for runs in the park with her husband, crawl around on the floor and play with her children, and not worry about hyper extending her knee while doing everyday tasks like going to the grocery store or working as a nurse at Jewish Hospital.
“I know my donor didn’t give me lungs, but it feels like lungs to me. They have changed my life in ways that I cannot even begin to describe. The life I lead today would not be possible without the gift that they gave me. I am so grateful” says Samantha.
Please consider being a registered Organ and Tissue Donor at www.donatelifeky.org. You could change someone’s life like Samantha’s!