Current KBC thank you item: "Be Human Kind" long-sleeve shirts
Dec. 6, 2023
When Samantha Eddington watches her daughter run – faster than most on this planet who are missing a leg – it can be easy to forget how close she was to losing Katie.
In 2013, Katie was playing in the garage when she was accidentally run over by a riding lawnmower, nearly severing her right leg. At just 4 years old, Katie was not only in jeopardy of losing a limb, her life hung in the balance.
Katie was rushed to UK Hospital where she immediately underwent the first of 16 surgeries in a month. She received more blood transfusions than Samantha can remember after massive blood loss.
Initially, Katie’s leg was spared, but the Eddingtons made the difficult decision two years later to undergo an above-the-knee amputation when the leg stopped growing and complications turned into permanent barriers.
Fast forward 10 years later and Katie is a world-class sprinter, just a half second shy of a qualifying time for the 2024 Paralympics at 14 years old. It’s that radical transformation that motivated Samantha to organize a blood drive this past October to celebrate everything her blossoming daughter has overcome and to be there for the next family that needs help.
Because, even after a career as an oncology nurse, Samantha fully understands now that accidents can happen to anyone.
“I don’t want to forget that it’s a miracle she is still alive,” Samantha said.
The blood drive took place Oct. 13 at the Scott County Court House in Georgetown, not far from where the lawnmower accident happened. Although the accident was no one’s fault – Katie was a kid trying to have fun and hide from her dad – a cloud of guilt hung over Katie’s parents for years.
“You just think like, I’m a horrible parent,” Samantha said. “You’ve been given this beautiful, perfect child, and somehow you let this happen. We didn’t do anything wrong; we just weren’t really educated.
There are still a lot of people who are like, ‘Oh that will never happen to me,’ and I say, ‘I really hope it doesn’t, and if it does, you’ll remember this conversation.’ ”
Katie has been incredibly resilient through it all. She saw dozens of specialists across the country as a young child with few complaints.
When reality set in that that Katie’s quality of life would be better without the leg, she cried about the decision to amputate it for all of 45 seconds. She was in and out of the hospital for the December 2015 amputation in two days.
“As soon as I got back, I was just ready to get outside,” Katie said.
Katie wasted little time getting there. Within two weeks she was walking. A couple of months later, she received her first running blade and was running down the neighborhood street with friends. Before a year had passed, Katie ran in her first 5k as a 7-year-old amputee.
“Just like that, it was over,” Samantha said. “For her, life went back to normal.”
One 5k turned into another. And then another. Before the Eddingtons knew it, they were traveling around the country to train and race. Katie eventually transitioned to sprinting and won her first race in 2018.
“She was hooked the moment she got that running blade,” said Samantha, who isn’t sure where Katie’s competitive gene came from. “She never wanted to run prior to this all happening. She never did it before because she was only 4 years old. But when she was finally able to do it, she was hooked and wanted to be the best.”
“It’s the adrenaline rush,” Katie said of her love with running. “I’m really kind of a competitive person.”
Katie is a national record holder in three different classifications, she qualified for the 2023 World Abilitysport Games in Thailand (she’s passing due to timing), and she just recently attended a U.S. Paralympic training camp in California. Katie has her eyes set on the 2028 Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.
There are so many things and people that turned a traumatic accident into an inspiration: the medical officials at UK’s Chandler Hospital who saved her life; Katie’s family and friends who have been with her for every step of the journey; the doctors who amputated her leg; Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates for its unwavering support; Toyota Tsusho for sponsoring her racing career, and 50 Legs, which provided Katie with her first running blade.
They are why, on the anniversary of the accident every year, Katie and Samantha do something to give back to the community. But the generosity of Kentuckians who donated blood and provided it when Katie unexpectedly needed it isn’t lost on them, especially Samantha.
“I remember clear as day when they hung up that unit of blood, and I’m like, we’re in a mess right here,” Samantha said. “This is not good.”
To save people like Katie when there is little time to spare, blood must be available when it’s needed, where it’s needed.
“I can’t even count how many hundreds of units of blood that I have hung on a human,” Samantha, a nurse, said. “I am not a selfish person, but it just never fit into my brain that (donating blood) was something I needed to do, until I realized that that’s somebody’s family that’s just like my family that donates. Somebody took the hour of their life for my daughter.”
Samantha is more than paying it back. The “Katie Gives Back Blood Drive” brought out 30 donors and produced 26 units of blood. Their generosity will directly impact Kentuckians at more than 70 hospitals.
The drive was such a success that the Eddingtons plan to make it an annual event. For Katie, it’s a reminder of all the good things that can be borne out of tragedy when people come together to help one another.
“Just looking back, the day and the night everything that happened, my whole life shifted completely, but I wouldn’t ask for it any other way,” Katie said. “With the all the people I’ve met, the different perspective I have on amputees now … the friends we have everywhere thanks to this – it’s not like it’s a good thing that it happened, but a lot of good came out of it that I think was completely worth it.”
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Celebrating 55 years of saving lives in Kentucky, KBC is the largest independent, full-service, nonprofit blood center in Kentucky. Licensed by the FDA, KBC’s sole purpose is to collect, process and distribute blood for patients in Kentucky. KBC provides services in 90 Kentucky counties and has donor centers in Lexington, Louisville, Frankfort, Pikeville, Somerset and the Tri-County area.