Brave Mother Callie Colwick Celebrates Life with her Daughter Kenzi and Bilateral Below-Knee Prosthetics
Callie Colwick found out she and her husband, Kevin, were expecting their second child in November 2016. But at only 15 weeks pregnant, Callie began experiencing a complication which they later discovered was placenta percreta. While in the hospital fighting for her son’s life, she went into septic shock resulting in the loss of her son Quinn, both legs below the knee, a few fingers, and a year and a half of her life. Though Callie has endured a heartbreaking tragedy, she believes her story is one of hope and that “beautiful destinations often lie at the end of the most difficult paths.”
Callie and her husband are high school sweethearts. They married in 2011 and had their first child, Kenzi Rae, in 2015. Kenzi is an absolute delight and their “bright ray of sunshine”. After some pregnancy difficulties, they were expecting again. Hesitant to tell people early about the pregnancy, they waited until the second trimester to share the news. Shortly after, Callie started to experience complications with her pregnancy.
Callie’s life changed forever the day after Christmas in 2016.
While Callie was 4 months pregnant with her son Quinn, she began experiencing complications and visited her doctor. She was sent immediately to the hospital, and they expected she would give birth at any moment.
She was admitted to the hospital in early December 2016. On the day after Christmas, after weeks of fighting for her son’s life, Callie’s body went into septic shock. Doctors later discovered it was due to very rare E.coli infection that started in her uterus.
“It was a solemn few weeks fighting for my son’s life in the hospital. We were praying for a miracle while simultaneously being faced with statistics increasingly against us. Kevin never left my side. Christmas day our daughter Kenzi visited the hospital and I was filled with joy and hope – but the following day my abdomen hurt and suddenly my world went black.”
Callie’s body began to shut down as her organs failed. Quinn was delivered while Callie was unconscious, weighing just half a pound. He couldn’t survive apart from his mother. Callie began hemorrhaging blood and was immediately rushed into surgery. Kevin was left in the hospital room alone with his son, mourning his passing and not knowing if Callie would survive the surgery… if he would ever see her alive again.
Fighting for her Life
Kevin stayed by Callie’s side.
Over the next year, Callie was in an intense fight for her life as she spent countless months in the ICU, being fed through tubes, a machine giving her every breath, and enduring dozens of surgeries including a hysterectomy, amputations, and countless reconstructive surgeries. Kevin never left her bedside and served as her biggest advocate as they navigated the mountains of tests, procedures, and treatments.
Two months into her ICU stay, blood loss left Callie with severely damaged tissue. When Kevin learned doctors would have to amputate both of her legs, he fought to keep her knees. The doctors amputated both of Callie’s legs below the knee, her left thumb, left index finger, and coccyx. Her first memory was from Valentine’s Day – Kevin was wearing a suit and tie and brought her paper flowers and a snow cone. Callie was able to see her below-knee limb loss for the first time that day.
Callie spent the next year and a half in the ICU and rehabilitation hospital getting skin grafts and other procedures needed for recovery. With over 170 surgeries and procedures, the time she spent in the ICU felt like an eternity. Kevin never left her side – becoming Callie’s biggest advocate and seeing their daughter Kenzi as often as he could.
Life with Below-Knee Prosthetics
Finally, in March 2018, Callie came home. She still had a long recovery ahead, needing time to heal and learn how to move her new body. Initially, she worked on simple tasks like sitting up and holding a glass of water. As she got stronger, her physical therapy progressed. Finally, one year after she came home, she was able to stand on her knees. Once she was strong enough, she went to Hanger Clinic to explore what life would look like with prosthetics.
In April 2019, Callie went to her first appointment at the Hanger Clinic in Plano, Texas, meeting her prosthetist Jason Reed, CPO, and beginning her mobility journey. It was there she stood up for the first time and embraced her husband (something she hadn’t been able to do in years), and documented many of her big moments via her Instagram channel.
“My Hanger family was there to support me from day one. Jason listened intently to my story, and I could see that he empathized and felt the pain of everything I had been through. From that moment on, he took care of me every step of the way. He listened to what I wanted in my first set of prosthetic legs. Then one year later when I told him I needed something more lightweight and easier for me to use on my own independently, he fabricated the perfect set of sparkly gold legs. They were everything I wanted and more. The generosity and care of the Hanger Clinic team is more than I can ever put into words.”
Celebrating Mother’s Day
Thanks to the incredible care from her Hanger Clinic team, prosthetic technology, and sheer determination, Callie has gradually regained her mobility and independence over the past three years. Because of her difficult amputation, Callie must work harder than many amputees at her level and uses a variety of mobility tools in addition to her prosthetic devices. The Hanger Clinic team has become like family to her, cheering her on and supporting her every step of the way.
Four years after watching her daughter take her first steps, Callie never imagined the roles would be reversed and her daughter would be watching mom do the same thing. Not only did Kenzi watch – she proudly cheered her mom on.
Callie continues to progress. She is walking, writing a children’s book, writing a book documenting her story, traveling, and speaking to share her miraculous story of hope amidst unthinkable darkness. The Colwick family has also started the adoption process and is just waiting to share all the love they have with their future little one once they are selected by a very special mom.
“As I reflect on what Mother’s Day means to me this year, I feel immense gratitude for the little things and so blessed to be alive. Medically speaking, I shouldn’t be here. But I am, and now I get to watch my daughter grow up. Watching her discover the beauty in life as I simultaneously rediscover it is such a sweet gift. There is always an opportunity to discover the beauty in each day. You simply have to look for it. There was a challenge I gave myself in the ICU that I continue to this day: to find one beautiful thing in each day. As I lay in the ICU room unable to move, unable to breath on my own, I’d watch the sunlight trickle in through my window and dance on those sterile walls, and I would think to myself: ‘I found my one beautiful thing’.”
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If you or someone you love is looking for personalized care following amputation, get in touch with a board-certified prosthetist at a Hanger Clinic near you.
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