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Carrie’s Story – A girl, her guitar, and a promise

After being diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, Carrie received the gift of donated tendon grafts in her shoulders that allowed her to live a normal life.

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For as long as she can remember, Carrie would wake up each day relocating her dislocated shoulder after a night’s sleep. A rare genetic disorder, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), caused the ligaments and tendons in her body to stretch like taffy, resulting in joint dislocations, especially in her shoulder. Her physical injuries were so debilitating, it kept her from fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse like her mother.

After multiple failed surgeries using her own tendons, Carrie was diagnosed with EDS and her physicians now understood the reasons for her graft failures. They decided to use donated tendon to repair her right shoulder. The surgery was successful but a few months later, her left shoulder failed and a second donated tendon enabled her left arm to be functional again.

“The surgeries not only gave me back the full use of my arms, it gave me freedom from that feeling of defeat by my disorder. I am going to get to do the things that give me life again – playing my guitar, fishing with my Grandfather, hugging with both arms, walking my dog, driving my car, and above all gain my independence back’, said Carrie.

A few years ago, Carrie lost an uncle who was a tissue donor. In her letter to her donor’s family, Carrie shared her promise, “I promise to always look for ways to give back to others, just as you did by making that decision, whether I do that in my career, personal life, or elsewhere. Your ability to see the potential in your loved one during the time of difficulty is so inspiring that I promise to do that in my life as well. I will find the potential in others and do my best to help them overcome their battles just as your family helped me to overcome mine.”

After sending a thank you letter to her donor family, Carrie was contacted by MTF Biologics to speak at a Donate Life Month event. She later became an intern in Donor Services, where she worked closely with the MTF Biologics Linking Lives program. She was so inspired by this experience, that she left her art therapy studies to serve in the field of donation and transplantation.

Today, Carrie works for Statline, helping donors and transplant recipients become part of the process that made her whole. She is a seasoned speaker, passionate about sharing her success story, and inspires people to register to become donors. Congratulations to Carrie, who was recently accepted into nursing school and will be fulfilling her dreams of becoming a nurse!