VU Home
back issues
search content
VUMC search
House Organ
Jason Koger awoke in the Burn Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in early March 2008, and through the unfamiliar surroundings and the anesthetic haze he understood what he was being told: below the elbow, his arms were gone.

His father, Mike Koger, stood at his bedside and as Jason focused on his father’s voice, the unbelievable reality began to settle in.

 He had no hands. And it hit him: Would he ever be able to hold his girls again?
The thought would not let go. His daughter Billie Grace was 21 months old, and the baby, Cambell, was just 3 months old. One of the joys of Jason’s life was wrapping his arms around them, and around his wife Jenny, too.

As soon as Jason could ask for anything, he had asked to see his father, and Mike was the first family member to talk to Jason at his Vanderbilt bedside. Mike is a big man with the confident air of a former drill sergeant who has owned and operated a construction business and knows a little about setbacks and moving around the obstacles that life and fate can bring.
And there’s no denying that on a scale of setbacks and obstacles, losing both arms below the elbow is pretty high on the scale. But on that day, Mike leaned over his son, and promised: “We’ll get through this.”
 Not “you”—“we.”

Later, Jason said that this was how he understood his dad’s words: “If you put yourself in God’s hands, anything is possible.”
And so did Jenny: “We knew we would get through this.”

Three days earlier, Jason had gone for a ride on his all-terrain vehicle. It was a late winter day, but the air had a hint of the spring to come, and he was looking forward to enjoying the outdoors on a Saturday afternoon while Jenny and his young daughters took a nap.
He left the house and steered the ATV around the back to the dirt road that runs between farm fields behind the family home in Utica, Ky., near Owensboro. He picked up speed and the wind blew in his face as he rode along the rough road.

Ahead, a row of single power poles carry an electric line across the field. On this day, probably due to some combination of wind and the softening of the ground after a wet spring, one of the poles had tilted to about a 45-degree angle. This caused the high-voltage power line to sag close to the ground. About four feet high. Stretched across the dirt road.
 And almost invisible against the backdrop of fields.

When Jason came in contact with the wire, high voltage current surged through his body. The shock threw him from the four-wheeler. A cousin of Jason’s, who was also riding a four-wheeler, witnessed the accident and put in the call for help.
 Jenny went to the site of the accident, and rode in the ambulance to the hospital while relatives took over caring for Billie Grace and Cambell. At the local hospital, doctors realized that Jason would need care at the Vanderbilt Burn Center and began arranging for LifeFlight to
transport him.

In a story she has told many times, Jenny says she realized that Jason’s situation was grave when in Owensboro she overheard something she was never meant to hear: one medical person saying to another, “This kid could lose his hands.”

Now, two years later, Jason, who is 31, and Jenny, 29, sit on a plush chocolate brown couch in their den and talk about that day when everything changed. The den is at the rear of the house and is dominated by an entertainment center and large television on one wall, and is watched over by two mounted deer heads, which Jason, an avid hunter both before and since his accident, proudly points out.

The bright room has a large window facing the back yard. The yard rises uphill from the rear of the house before coming to a crest and falling away on the other side, where the dirt road runs. Jason, who has a broad, guileless face and a sometimes disconcertingly straightforward way of talking, matter-of-factly notes that it was just over that rise in the yard where he was almost killed.

Their property abuts that of two of Jason’s uncles and cousins, and has been farmed by members of his family for decades. This house was Jason’s boyhood home.

Jenny also grew up in the area, but the couple didn’t meet until they were in college at Murray State, Jason majoring in agricultural engineering and Jenny in graphic design.
“I was really good friends with his roommate,” she remembers with a smile. But the roommate lost out, and it was Jason who won her over.
 On their wedding day, they made the vows that are recited at weddings all over  the world, pledging to stay together for better and for worse, in sickness and in health. Those words mean a lot in retrospect.

Jason and Jenny talk a lot about the need to go forward, and keeping faith, but they know better than anybody about the pain and losses that life has brought them.

“When we got married we had our whole life planned out—’We’re going to have this many kids and do this by this age,’” Jenny says. She gives a little smile and a rueful shake of her head. “I think one thing we’ve learned is that we’re totally not in control. You just realize God is in complete control, and you’re not.”

Page 1  2  3
joe howell
An accident took his arms, but Jason Koger is determined that i
by Wayne Wood
VUMC news
Faculty/Staff  Discount Program
VUMC event calendar
Health and Wellness
House Organ  Facebook page
Vanderbilt Employees’ Credit Union
e-mail the editor
joe howell
Bookmark and Share