Samantha and Russell Eddington describe their daughter, Kate, as one of the happiest kids you’ll ever meet. That positive outlook only got stronger after she survived a lawn mower accident that nearly took her life.
In October 2013, Russell was cutting the grass on a riding lawn mower and didn’t realize Kate was standing behind him. He backed over her with the mower, and the blade caused massive damage to her leg.
Samantha worked at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington and was at the hospital when paramedics brought Kate in an ambulance. The chaplain was by her side as she approached Kate’s hospital bed before surgery.
“She didn’t talk to me,” Samantha recalls. “Her lip was quivering. She was just really cold. I didn’t know if she was going to live or not. I couldn’t tell how much blood she had lost. There was just blood everywhere. In my mind, there was no way she was going to keep her leg.”
In the first 30 days, Kate went through 16 surgeries in an effort to save her leg and was bedridden for four months. Things got better for Kate once she got home and into a wheelchair.
Still, Samantha was determined to find a doctor that could repair Kate’s leg to avoid amputation. Once they finally found a doctor who could do the surgery, he let them know it would require multiple surgeries and take at least a decade to pull off.
After that visit, Samantha and Russell were standing at the elevators outside the doctor’s office, and they couldn’t help but notice Kate was just as happy as she could be. At that moment, the couple knew they couldn’t put their daughter through all of that surgery in an effort to save the leg.
Samantha says, “I looked at Kate and she’s just so happy. She’s just happy. Russell looked over at me, and he said, ‘We can’t do that, can we?’ I said, ‘No.’ We had to give up so she could move on.”
At that point, the Eddingtons scheduled surgery to amputate Kate’s leg and introduced her to a lot of amputees, including a young boy named Jake. He lost his leg in a lawn mower accident very similar to Kate’s, and Jake was thriving and even cracking jokes about his prosthetic leg around Kate. Meeting Jake meant just as much to Kate’s parents as it meant to Kate.
“He was happy,” Samantha says of Jake, “and I needed to see somebody that had survived this that was happy and just a regular, functioning person. And that was him.”
While getting ready for the amputation, Kate’s mom wrote her a letter spelling out all the things she hoped Kate could do following the surgery. That included running and “sitting criss-cross applesauce.”
Samantha marvels, “All the things that I hoped she would be able to do, she can do.”
Looking at Kate today, it’s clear her missing leg doesn’t slow her down a bit.
She says, “My favorite things to do are ride a bike and run. I’m running three miles. And it’s gonna be really hard, but I think I can do it.”
Kate also loves to swim, and her dad adds, “Through every bit of this, Kate never stopped, and she has never complained. She comes in. She’s happy.”
The Eddingtons shared their story as part of David Nail’s “Fighter” video series. It’s part of the celebration surrounding the release of David’s new album, “Fighter,” available now. To share your own “Fighter” story, go to DavidNail.com/Fighter.
Of note, statistics show that a child loses a limb in a lawn mower accident every day in the United States. To learn more about lawn mower safety, go to LimbsMatter.com.