PECKVILLE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — An elite athlete and former model from Australia is sharing her message of inspiration and thanks. She survived life-threatening burns thanks to a northeastern Pennsylvania connection.
“I want to thank you for your dedication and your hard work.” said the woman at the podium Thursday morning at Fiorelli’s in Peckville. The words of appreciation came from 29-year-old Turia Pitt and were aimed at employees of Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, or MTF in Jessup.
Five years earlier, the distance runner became caught in a freak firestorm in the Outback of her native Australia. “I just remembered looking down at my hands and arms and they were both ablaze.” Burned over 65 percent of her body, no human tissue for massive skin grafts was available in her homeland. That’s when MTF stepped in and delivered the donor tissue she required. “When I received the donor skin, I turned around so quickly and so dramatically so I’m not being melodramatic but it was 100 percent life-saving. It saved my life.”
Not to say her recovery wasn’t an ordeal. Seven of her fingers had to be amputated. “Recovering from a burn injury is incredibly painful and incredibly lengthy.” Now fully recovered, Ms. Pitt completed the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in October.
While MTF has helped countless individuals, this is the first time they’ve been thanked in such a public way. MTF Donor Services Vice President George Herrera said, “We know that the work we do has meaning and it helps and heals people’s lives but when you get someone here who tells you that and you hear the amazing story not only of their recovery but what they’ve gone on to do it’s truly inspirational.” MTF Jessup Operations Vice President Gary Thomas added, “It resonates with what we do and our workforce and the compassion that the workforce puts forth every day.” Sara Fetch, who is a laboratory analyst at MTF’s Jessup facility said, “To be outside and hear such an inspirational story, it motivates me to want to do my job better.”
For Ms. Pitt, a debt of gratitude for her new lease on life thanks to this northeastern Pennsylvania connection. “Their work has meaning and purpose and I think all of us like to be acknowledged in that way.”
Ms. Pitt is engaged to her partner, Michael Hoskin, and planning a family. She will also appear in the Tournament of Roses Parade on January 2nd riding on the Donate Life float. You can learn more about becoming a tissue or organ donor by clicking here.