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February 22, 2019

While on vacation in Italy, Sam Porritt was taking photographs overlooking a patio terrace. After misjudging a step, he fell 15 feet over a wall. Sam lost all feeling from the waist down, and he was rushed into surgery.

After 17 days in an Italian hospital, Sam was flown straight to The University of Kansas Hospital and began rehabilitation. In honor of Sam's never-give-up attitude and determination to get well, he was honored and inducted into The University of Kansas Health System Rehabilitation Hall of Fame.

Sam Porritt has a remarkable story of recovery and rehabilitation from a spinal cord injury.
As I was taking photos, I was on a patio that was terraced down to another level. I saw this step in front of me, much like a step, you know, that I've taken millions of times in my life. But this step was a little deeper than I had thought and when I went to take the step I, misjudged it and lost my balance and I went over a 15-foot wall. Right away, what I realized was that I had no feeling from the waist down and couldn't move, which is pretty terrifying realization. And I had surgery same day of the accident. And after the surgery, I got feeling back in my legs. I spent 17 days in the hospital in Italy, so we came home and I flew directly from the Italian hospital to KU Med and I arrived here and was here close to a month. Really, he moved well. You know, I mean, it's all relative, I guess, in a sense, but his sit-to-stand, he did a great job. The biggest thing was the lower extremities from the knee below weren't functioning like we would like him to to have a normalized gait pattern. And so, I think we knew from the beginning that was our initial battle, the fight was to hopefully start to get movement back below the knee. It's always exciting when we start to see movement that we haven't seen before. He started to activate and have some movement and it's just such an exciting, because it changes the course. The first time that Tamra with her hand on my leg, you know, told me to try move my foot and she felt a muscle firing and we didn't actually see my foot move at first, but she felt the muscle firing and I... it was like I wanted to come out of my skin, I was so overjoyed, I was so blessed, I was just freaked out. I don't think I was your nurse that day, was I? It was a call light and I came down to help with something, you know, good and I think was in the room a couple different times and I thought, well, I don't know I just had a feeling I wanted to give, I tried a little reflexology, I would give a foot rub, you know, just simple stuff like that. He said he hadn't been moving his feet. And I give it, you know, and he couldn't, didn't say much and, but he said felt good, you know. And Joe's being really modest. A couple hours after that foot massage, my feet moved for the first time. I remember hitting the call light and saying, you know, get down here fast and I'm sure they're thinking there's some emergency or something and, you know, the emergency was my feet had moved. And I wanted to tell the world about it. You know, obviously, it's gratifying. I felt like he thought I was walking on water there at first. He's being willing and open to have something good happen, you know. And the hard work he's put into it makes it makes it happen. I mean, the person in charge is a patient. I've met so many people through this experience and I would say throughout or across all of those people, there's one quality or when characteristic and they are amazingly, amazingly caring, positive, encouraging, supportive people that are drawn to this profession and the collective support and positive attitude and encouragement from all those people makes a tough journey for a patient much more doable, much easier, because you have this amazing team of people around you. So much reassurance is important, I think and Sam's strong wheels made a big difference. But I saw it in his eyes and he wasn't gonna quit. Sam, you did a lot of confidence and most of our patients doing that you can do this and giving that moment. And, so providing that opportunity for success so they can start to believe in themselves that they can do it when they get home. Probably the most important thing is to really believe in yourself and believe that you can and will get better. And with the help of all these people around you, who have great skill and training and great belief in you to work your hardest and give it your all and, you know, my favorite quote now of Winston Churchill: "Never, never, never give up." It's really been a rallying cry for me. It's a hard journey. There are days that your body hurts or you're just so tired. It's a journey that's like probably everything in life: there's ups and downs, but this journey feels like there's even more challenges and more obstacle in front of you, but have faith keep working hard and never, never, never give up. Blown away, overwhelmed with great pride. And also very emotional. All these people that I've met through this journey. Amazing stories, amazing things that people have overcome and to be chosen as the honoree for the year, I'm not sure I'm deserving, but I'm very grateful, I'm very honored. I'm humbled by it. I hope I can, through example and through further motivation of others, live up to the honor.

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