BOSTON (CBS) — Walking the halls at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital with Paul Kent, who goes by “PK,” is like being with a celebrity. There wasn’t a doctor or therapist who walked by that didn’t say hello.
“Sometimes the student becomes better than the teacher,” Physical Therapist Urvashi Cogle says smiling. “I taught Paul to walk, and here he is doing a marathon!”
PK, a father of two grown sons, will run his first Boston Marathon less than 18 months after having a bi-lateral Ewing surgery, a double amputation below the knee. The surgery was performed by Dr. Matthew Carty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Using bionic advancements, it results in a limb that functions more naturally.
After a decade of suffering with a genetic neuropathy that had already cost PK parts of both feet, the surgery in late 2020 was a gift.
“It ended a decade-long journey of a lot of pain and suffering—mentally, emotionally, physically obviously. And a lot of uncertainty to the point where I didn’t even plan things three months ahead.”
He says he woke up after surgery on December 2, 2020, with all of that agony behind him.
Since then, he has been a very motivated patient. PK surfs, golfs, swims and runs. Before the neuropathy compromised his health, he participated in marathons, triathlons, and even Ironman competitions.
“People ask, ‘Why are you so active?’ It’s because I can be and I haven’t been able to be.”
He is running the Boston Marathon for the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Spaulding Rehab Hospital (both members of Mass General Brigham).
He says those were the places that helped restore his health and mobility. He is also mindful of the advancements in care that other fundraising runners have helped to make possible since the marathon bombings. Innovations in trauma care—particularly for amputees—have taken place in Boston because of a community-wide determination to help people reclaim their mobility and their quality of life.