Amy Purdy Thanks Donor Dad by Living Life to the Fullest
Advocacy The “Dancing with the Stars” fan favorite and Paralympic medalist looks back on how tough decisions allowed her to live the life she always wanted.
It was just like any other day in 1998 when 19-year-old Amy Purdy went in for another day of work as a massage therapist. 24 hours later she was fighting for her life.
An avid snowboarder, Purdy had unknowingly contracted Neisseria meningitis. As she was put on life support, her spleen and kidneys lost function and both legs were amputated below the knee due to septic shock. She was given a 2 percent chance to live.
A wake-up call
Against the odds, she recovered, which meant facing an immediate need for a kidney transplant.
“The doctors discovered that my kidneys were already failing before I got to the hospital,” Purdy, now 35, explains. “Deciding to have the transplant was more difficult for me than losing my legs, believe it or not. But I wanted to live a healthy, independent life, and that’s why I knew I needed to go through with it.”
Luckily, her dad was a near-perfect match and the transplant was a success. Purdy experienced mild side effects from the medication she’s now grown used to taking.
“Saying ‘thank you’ just isn’t enough to express how I feel. So I’m living my life to the fullest — that’s how I’m thanking my dad.”
The difficult decision allowed Purdy to continue living the active, adventurous life she had always enjoyed. She got back on her snowboard and became a 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist, co-founded the non-profit Adaptive Action Sports and was the runner-up on the 18th season of “Dancing with the Stars.” She is also a model, actress, clothing designer, author and motivational speaker.
Purdy owes all of those accomplishments to her dad. “I am so grateful for the gift he gave me. He risked his health to save mine,” she says. “Saying ‘thank you’ just isn’t enough to express how I feel. So I’m living my life to the fullest — that’s how I’m thanking my dad.”