I have been a very active person all of my life. I enjoy playing all different types of sports, running long distances and being active with friends and family. More than anything, I enjoyed being able to serve as a volunteer firefighter in my town. But, the day I had my accident, all of those things I loved doing were no longer guaranteed.
While on a ski trip seven years ago, I suffered a significant knee injury that tore many ligaments and broke bone. Knee surgery was required to repair the damage from the accident. I was presented with two options for surgery: use existing ligaments in my knee to replace the torn ones, which would require a large incision and decrease my knee strength, or receive a tissue graft from a donor, allowing greater knee strength and mobility as well as a smaller incision. I chose to accept a tissue graft so the integrity of my knee would not be compromised and there would be less pain.
After knee surgery and rehabilitation, I was declared seven percent physically disabled. However, had I not chosen the tissue graft, the degree of my disability would be much greater, making most of the physical activities I enjoyed doing painful and impossible. Most importantly, my days serving my community as a volunteer firefighter would have ended due to the physical demands of the job -climbing ladders, crawling on floors and lifting heavy objects.
Today I am grateful to move pain free as I run, play sports and stay active. My passion for fire services continues; I serve and volunteer as a firefighter/EMT and chaplain with the Northern Wake Fire Department. Most days I cannot even tell I have had an injury to my knee at all – only because of the gift of tissue donation.
To my donor, donor family and to all families who have chosen tissue donation, thank you! Because of your gifts, people like myself have greater strength and mobility to be able to do the things they love and continue to make an impact serving their communities.
Lauren Deer, Tissue Recipient, Volunteer Firefighter/EMT and Chaplain
Raleigh, North Carolina