PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A story of giving and gratitude this holiday season. The Gift of Life program here in the Philadelphia region helped save a young athlete in Australia.
Turia Pitt, 29 was hospitalized for months with burns covering most of her body in excruciating pain, but she survived — in part with a donation that came from an unidentified family here in our area.
There was a hug for some of the people from Gift of Life who helped organize a transplant that saved Pitt’s life.
“I ended up getting burned over 65 percent of my body,” Pitt said.
She’s from Australia, a mining engineer and elite athlete. During an ultra-marathon in 2011, Pitt was trapped and burned by a brush fire.
She needed extensive skin grafts but there were none available in her country.
“I was in critical condition with kidney and liver failure, thankfully they found skin in America,” Pitt explained.
Gift of Life coordinated donations from 16 Americans; one came from the Philadelphia area.
“To give the gift of a loved one’s tissue to someone you don’t know, that’s an extraordinary gift for sure,” noted Pitt.
In sharing her story, Pitt is hoping to inspire more donors like Cynthia London, who donated organs from her son, Sipho who was killed 19 years ago.
“Every time I see a recipient I’m just elated, because I know I made the right decision for Sipho,” said London.
As part of her recovery, Pitt has written a book called “Everything to Live For.” She’s also engaged to be married and hoping to start a family soon.
She continues to have reconstructive surgeries but is back to serious running and living a pledge she made when she was told what happened: “I was only alive because of strangers generosity, I resolved to make the most of my life and live to the best of my abilities.”
Pitt is in the United States to be in the Rose Parade representing Gift of Life and the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation.