Andrew Meyers dedicated his life to competitive sports. From a young age, he participated in soccer programs and spent countless weekends traveling the country for tournaments. He advanced to elite status, and was awarded MVP, first place all-conference, and second place team all-state. Andrew's other passion was track and cross country; his achievements took him to National competitions twice in the Junior Olympics.
After high school, Andrew took a summer job with a local landscape company. He returned to work at the company during the summers while in college. His third summer with the company, Andrew received a promotion which required him to organize job sites, work directly with customers, and handle invoices. On occasion, he helped out in the field as a laborer, acting as the foreman on the jobsite.
August 23, 2006, was a day that changed Andrew's life. He arrived at work knowing he would be working in the field; his company was in the midst of moving equipment to a new site. "The day was nearing an end when a task required the use of one of our track loaders," Andrew recalls. He located the track loader, which was being operated by a coworker. He stopped the operator and directed him to complete the task. In an effort to expedite his transportation across the job site, Andrew climbed on the track loader and instructed the worker to head to the area.
"After I instructed the coworker to go, he pushed the loader into full throttle and took off. Right then I knew something was wrong as I was flung into the cage of the pallet forklift," he states. Andrew heard his coworker laughing, as if he had intended to scare him. Unbeknownst to the operator, Andrew was losing his balance, as he was standing on only a four inch step. "I repeatedly told the worker to slow down and stop, but he persisted. Before we knew it, the loader hit a bump and I was thrown from the forklift."
Andrew landed in front of one of the track wheels. It caught his left leg, crushing his femur, tibia, and fibula. The pain was nothing like Andrew had ever before experienced. He recalls instructing his coworker to back off of him slowly, as not to induce further injury. In a surprising moment of clarity, Andrew yelled for someone to call 911 and then his parents. "I tried to stand up at first, but nothing happened. I made a second attempt, and then felt my leg bend at mid-thigh; this knocked the wind out of me. I felt like I was glued to the ground."
Andrew was placed in a drug-induced coma for several days during which he endured several surgeries to attempt to save his leg. He suffered numerous infections, which required additional surgeries. Andrew's injuries were so severe that amputation was ultimately required to save his life.
In 2008, Andrew had a revision surgery on his amputated limb, which led to three subsequent operations to combat infection. Andrew had a total of 18 surgeries on his leg. Six years after his accident, Andrew struggles with phantom leg sensation and pain, but he is adapting to life as an amputee. He learned to walk again with the aid of a prosthetic, and now participates in extreme sports with a special prosthesis designed for running. He is training to run competitively and enjoys challenging himself with rock climbing.
Andrew changed his career focus and is now studying to be a mechanical engineer at the University of Cincinnati. "I believe research dollars in areas that could improve the quality of life for amputees is money well spent. I dream of the days where we will be able to combine technology with biology and create biomedical devices that replace lost limbs."
Andrew frequently speaks publicly about living with a disability, and has been interviewed on National Public Radio. "I like to make people aware that I am a person living a life with a "disability," not a "disabled person" living a life," he says. "Being an amputee is a physical condition; what I do as an amputee is what will define me."
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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