Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy underwent surgery Monday after revealing that she had developed a massive blood clot in her leg, forcing her to choose between risking losing her limb or possibly endangering her donated kidney.
Purdy had both legs amputated below the knee when she was 19 after she contracted meningococcal meningitis, an infection that also caused septic shock and kidney failure. She received a donated kidney from her father in 2000 after doctors said it was the only way she would ever be able to live a healthy life and snowboard again. She had previously referred to the transplant as her "second chance at life."
But on Sunday Purdy revealed in a Facebook post that she had gone to the hospital for sudden pain in her calf which was determined to be "a massive blood clot from my hip to the bottom of my leg."
“I have been hit down multiple times in my life but this time by far has been the hardest,” the 39-year-old wrote.
“I went from snowboarding 6 hours a day, working out & traveling the world to what I thought was just a simple mechanical issue with my left leg,” Purdy added. “When I entered the hospital this weekend with my leg cramping we found out that it’s a much bigger problem than that.”
Purdy said the clot likely developed because she spends upwards of 12 hours in her prosthetics a day.
“The diagnoses came yesterday [Saturday] & knocked my family & I to the floor physically, mentally & emotionally. We believe the clot came from the pressure of my prosthetic pressing behind my knee where many arteries lie,” Purdy wrote.
Blood clots can be treated using blood thinners or by surgery, but doctors had initially refrained from operating on her because of other issues.
“To complicate things even more I have a kidney transplant & a severe shellfish allergy which are both contraindicated in the procedures they do to fix these types of things,” the athlete said. “The contrast dye in the procedures can injure my healthy transplanted kidney which has been the biggest gift of my life and health. So there’s the risk that to try to save my leg, we are risking my kidney.”
Purdy said she’s never been “more scared” in her life and admitted it’s difficult to stay positive.
“I’ve cried from the depths of my soul over the last two days & I’m sure my husband has seen a side of me he never wants to see again,” she said.
On Tuesday, she updated supporters with the news that surgery had taken place on Monday, and that "it went well!"
"We are also checking my kidney this morning to make sure it handled everything well. They had to use contrast but promised me it was a small amount so fingers crossed that my kidney powered through like the powerhouse it is," she wrote on Facebook. "My dad reassured me that before he gave it to me he put the through much worse. Thanks dad!"
Purdy said her health scare has been a reminder to "listen to those little whispers and put our health and self care first!"
"I have some healing ahead of me but couldn't be more grateful to feel the love and support behind me," she said. "Being wheeled into surgery feeling so much love was such a blessing. I can't thank you all enough for your kind words & prayers. My heart is so full."
Purdy, a top-ranked adaptive snowboarder, won a bronze medal in 2014 and a silver medal in 2018 at the Winter Paralympic Games.