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Mark O.

Whatever can happen, will happen.

We weren’t sure where to start when we sat down to share Mark’s story with you. It seems obvious to go back to the beginning, but that takes us all the way back to 1982.  Still, it was the catalyst for what would come over the next 40 years, like an endless list demonstrating Murphy’s law.

On June 21, 1982, Mark was hit by a van while on his motorcycle. He endured a horrific right leg open compound fracture, a break so bad he spent nearly one year in the hospital trying to save it.

“I’ll never forget that day,” Mark said. “It was the first day of summer in 1982. When the accident happened, my leg broke and the bone came out the back of my leg. They put this plate in my leg with nine screws and then covered the hole with a skin graft. Back then, that was almost a two-year process from injury to healing.”

But he did heal, eventually. And from that point until about January 2017, Mark lived his life as normally as he could, spending time with his family, including his beloved wife, Mary, and stepdaughter, Melissa.

“Melissa has been with me since day one. She’s guided me in the right ways and gotten things done. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know what I would have done. But anyway, back to the story.”

That winter, he had the hardware removed from his right leg. By March, he was taking a shower when he noticed a hole in his leg, right in line with the scar tracking up the front of his shin. 

“Being a typical man, I didn’t say anything to my wife for a few days,” he joked. “But eventually, I told her what I saw.”

The doctors opened his leg up from his knee to his ankle and all the way down to the bone in an emergency surgery. When they emerged, they told the family that Mark has Osteomyelitis, a serious infection of the bone that can be either acute or chronic.

Mark’s would endure for years, bringing with it one issue after another. As we said, Murphy’s law.

August 2017: Mark has another surgery on his right leg to clip the bone. He then requires self-infusions of antibiotics for eight weeks.

October 2017: Mark has a massive heart attack, and four stints are placed to save his life.

February 2018: Doctors find cancer in his neck. He has major surgery and is diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare type of skin cancer. He endures months of antibiotic infusions again.

June 2020: Mark has a right leg stint placed in his groin to improve blood flow.

December 2020: Right hip total collapse. Mark has a right hip replacement.

During all of these tragic events, the Osteomyelitis stayed with him. 

His family felt like something was wrong, but doctors were more dismissive. “They said, ‘Oh, it’s okay. You’re always going to have this hole,’”  Melissa told us. 

“But then last year, in April 2022, he sent me a photo after leaving his physician’s office. His bone was now visible through that hole in his leg. He had become septic, and it was apparent that he would have to undergo an operation,” she said.

Nearly four decades after his initial injury, despite numerous attempts to save it, Mark underwent a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg. 

He spent a full 30 days in the hospital due to complications, and they almost lost him. He fought hard in the ICU and recovered well enough to be transferred to a long-term rehabilitation center close to home, completing two weeks of rehab. 

Then, he started another fight – this time, with the insurance company.

Mark was fitted for a prosthetic, a pretty important part of his post-amputation recovery. It seems obvious, right? Instead, the family argued for over a month as the insurance company quarreled over what and how much they would cover.

“My mother contacted me to explain that the insurance company did not cover the total amount and that she could not cover the remaining cost,” Melissa said. “She’s on a payment plan with the hospital and rehab, and we still await the full totals as the insurance company denies claims, and I submit requests for review.”

“I agreed to cover the remaining cost of my stepdad’s prosthetic, but two days later, my home was damaged during Hurricane Ian, and I no longer had the funds,” she shared.

If you’re reading all this completely baffled and with rage boiling up against the insurance company, we’re right there with you. Mark lost a leg. A part of his body. And he still had to fight a losing battle to replace it. How does that make any sense?

What’s worse is that all of that time, all of that back-and-forth, was for a total of $1,091.30. That’s the difference between Mark getting his mobility back or Mark requiring the use of a wheelchair instead. One thousand dollars.

Even if he gave up and agreed to move forward without the prosthetic, it wouldn’t have worked for him. Mark currently rents his home, which isn’t accessible or adaptable for a wheelchair. 

Murphy’s law again. Ah – but not so fast. Like Matthew McConaughey explains in Interstellar, “Murphy’s law doesn’t mean something bad will happen. It means that whatever can happen will happen.”

In this case, the can is our Chive Charities donors, and the will is a fully-funded prosthetic leg. We can cover the remaining cost, and Mark will get his mobility back. Better yet, it didn’t take another fight. It just took one family reaching out and one community answering. Take that, insurance company.

(Special thanks to our Chive Charities Board Member Charlie Swearingen - a flight paramedic and Paralympian  - who told Mark and his family about Chive Charities and encouraged them to apply.)

This is the exact reason Chive Charities was created – to fill the gaps where insurance and other resources could not. That’s possible because so many people reach into their pockets and contribute $5, $10, or even $100 to ensure that someone like Mark doesn’t fall through the cracks. 

So that someone like Melissa can repair her storm-damaged home without wondering if her stepdad will have to suffer because of it.

If you reach out, this community will answer. Life-changing aid can happen. And through your support, it will. That’s Murphy’s law. DONATE HERE.

Mark O.'s Updates

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