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The night before her recent visit to Vanderbilt Orthopaedics, 15-year-old Kaitlyn Lasitter went to a concert with her best friend, Arin Valsted. They danced and jumped in the packed crowd and even got their arms autographed by the musicians.
But what seems like a typical night out for a teenager was an amazing accomplishment for Kaitlyn. Just two years before, she was lying on an operating table at Vanderbilt Medical Center, her feet were apart from her body and on ice on a nearby table after being severed just above the ankle by a faulty cable on a Kentucky amusement park ride.
Talented surgeons were able to reattach her right foot but not the left. In the time since, Kaitlyn has learned to walk again on one foot and one prosthesis.
The last two years have been a waiting game for Kaitlyn to see if her body would accept her replanted foot and whether it would regain motor and sensory function. She got the all-clear only a few months ago.
“Ever since I heard that, I’ve been confident to try running and skipping and hopping and jumping. But before then, I was afraid for a long time it was going to fall off,” she said.
With jeans and sneakers on, her gait looks perfectly normal. She can wiggle her toes and flex her ankle, and she has learned the pressure points that can scratch her big toe or tickle her pinky toe on her phantom left foot.
Now that she is confident in her reattachment, Kaitlyn’s resilience shines through.
“Everybody says, ‘I don’t know how you went through that,’ but I don’t know what they mean because I just did it. You really don’t know what you would do unless you’re in that position,” she said.
“Everything happens for a reason. Everyone has their own life story, and mine was supposed to have this huge detail put into it at some point.”
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