I never expected that at age 16 I would be in need of a tissue transplant. It was my second hockey game of the season, and I was away from home at a tournament in Michigan. My sister came to watch the game from Grand Valley State University and just as she sat down, hockey parents were tapping my mom on the shoulder to tell her I was really hurt. My mom had just looked away for a moment. Luckily, a parent was videotaping the game, and it wasn’t until we watched later that we saw the opposing team’s forward swing his stick like a baseball bat over my left thumb. The puck was nowhere near the play. I had to head straight to the ER in Michigan with my mom and sister and then Monday followed up with a hand surgeon close to home. My doctor’s words were “your thumb is almost beyond repair” and “I’ve never seen damage like this caused by a hockey stick” after viewing my x-rays. I have not cried in front of my mom since I was little, but after the doctor left the room, I broke down. Not only am I a hockey player and in my junior year of high school, but I also play varsity golf and enjoy fishing and hunting. I was concerned for whether I would ever have normal use of my thumb again. I had surgery that same week. The doctor used 13 pins in my left thumb and he used tissue from a donor to help my thumb reconstruct and heal. I needed to have another OR visit for the 13 pins to be removed. My doctor felt that the surgery was a success, and we were relieved. He said I will most likely have arthritis in my 20s and need another surgery, however, due to his surgical talents and the tissue donation, my surgery was a success. I am very grateful to my surgeon and to my tissue donor for thinking of how others could benefit from his/her tissue. Without this donation, the surgery would not have been as successful potentially causing me to not have normal use of my thumb.
–Henry (now age 18), A graduating senior during the Coronavirus pandemic