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Woman Recalls Losing All Limbs To Kidney Stone Complications

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(credit: CBS) Liz Collin
At 15 years old, Liz Collin made her broadcast debut covering...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For months, a Minneapolis woman has been fighting to get her life back after a shocking setback. Sue Johnson lost her limbs due to complications from a kidney stone.

After nearly seven months, Johnson is finally out of the hospital and sharing her story.

“I thought, ‘My gosh what is wrong with me?’” she said.

Johnson got out of bed that February morning thinking she had the flu and called a friend.

“I said, ‘Kay, I can’t feel my hands. I can’t even open up my water bottle,’” Johnson said.

When her friend and sister got there, they took one look at Johnson and called an ambulance.

Doctors said without any help,  Johnson would’ve died within an hour.

For 10 days, she lay in a coma at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.

Johnson didn’t know it but a kidney stone blocked her ureter, tubes made of smooth muscle fibers that propel urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder.

Fluid backed up into her system and she went into septic shock; her vital organs began shutting down. Then, a very rare infection called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (or D.I.C.) blocked the blood flow to her limbs. Johnson’s medical team told her it was too late to save her arms and legs.

“So, that was the beginning,” Johnson said.

After two months in the hospital, she spent another three in rehab, learning how to use her new prosthetic limbs.

Dr. Scott Crowe worked with Johnson for months at Fairview Acute Rehab Center.

“She was dancing, physically dancing on her way out the door, smiling,” Crowe said.  “That’s not how she came in.”

He believes Johnson’s strong will and positive attitude has gotten her this far.

“Probably five weeks ago I couldn’t stand up out of my wheelchair,” Johnson said.

She credits her family and friends for their support. She’s heard from more than 8,000 people on her Caring Bridge site.

After the constant reminder from doctors that most in her shoes don’t make it this far, Johnson is sure there’s a reason she did.

“He must have more plans for me,” Johnson said.

She will celebrate her 60th birthday on Saturday, but there will be a big party and fundraiser for her next month.

If you’d like to help, click here. Also, visit her CaringBridge site here.

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