My name is Jeremy Donegan and I’m a recent right, below the knee amputee. My story is truly one-of-a-kind in –
My name is Jeremy Donegan and I’m a recent right, below the knee amputee. My story is truly one-of-a-kind in how I got to this point.
As I was born with flat feet, I had a lot of complications and pain growing up. So much to where I would have to crawl to the bathroom after playing sports growing up. So, my parents took me to see a surgeon, who at the time said there wasn’t much he could do and to wait until I was older to get help.
When I was 29 years old, I went to see a surgeon who could help the pain and give me the ability to do normal activities with my wife and future children, without being in constant pain. I thought the plan would be simple, but God had other plans. After 5 surgeries in 2 years on my left ankle I was finally pain free and functional, but only on my left ankle. Throughout all those surgeries I stayed active in the gym and worked full time and even picked up Crossfit as a new hobby.
In March of 2015 I decided to have my right ankle operated on. My wife (Emily) and I had two girls (Sadie and Millie) who were 2 and 1 at the time. I had big hopes of getting it all done in one surgery so I could move on, go for runs and be active with my family. Well, God had a different plan again. 5 failed surgeries later (over 20 months) I was left with a nonunion of a total ankle fusion with broken hardware and constant pain. I so badly wanted to be normal and my prayers were that I could coach my girls in softball one day. My kids were so used to me not walking that they would tell folks to “watch out for my dad because he’s handicapped.” It broke my heart. My girls are my world. So after flying to St. Louis to meet with a specialist and hearing that the odds of another revision wasn’t very successful I asked the surgeon, “What if I told you I wanted an amputation? Would you think I’m crazy?” His response was “No, it’s honestly your best chance of an active life and you are an excellent candidate.” We flew back home and started the process of finding a prosthetist and a surgeon who would perform the best amputation on me. I got the name of Matt Bulow from a former co‐worker, John Mabry, of my brother in law. I met with Matt in the fall of 2018 and decided he was my guy. On February 13, 2019 I underwent my elective right below knee amputation by Dr. Jeff Herring at Saint Thomas Midtown. So many ‘God moments’ happened during the entire pre, intra, and post‐operative period that I knew this was God’s will for me. As soon as I was given the go‐ahead from my surgeon I started getting after it in the gym. I participated in the Crossfit Open two weeks after surgery. I received my temporary leg at the three week mark and got my definitive prosthesis at 8 weeks.
This journey has been one I would have never dreamed. Things I thought wouldn’t be an issue have and things I thought I would struggle with I haven’t. The biggest thing is staying mentally tough and keep moving especially when life is hard. My girls watch everything I do. I have never been the smartest, most athletic, or best‐looking guy, but I am one of the most determined men that you will meet. If you were to ask Sadie, who is now 7, what she loves most about her daddy, she will tell you, “He doesn’t quit. He never gives up.” God has created me for a purpose. I know there a big plans for me and now after 11 surgeries in 7 years, I can finally run with my daughters.