One year ago… Santa, aka Allen Young, was in danger of missing Christmas as doctors feared they would have to amputate his leg from a severe knee infection. Santa had ignored the pain and infection while he stayed at the bedside of his wife, Laura, who was dying of cancer. “I couldn’t leave her,” Young recalled the story. “I told the doctor I promised my wife I would continue my Santa duties after she was gone.”
“He also teased me that I would get a lump of coal in my stocking if I didn’t save his leg,” David Anderson, MD, orthopedic surgeon at The University of Kansas Hospital said. Dr. Anderson was able to give Santa a new knee and save his leg. It took four surgeries to remove the infection and several weeks in the hospital, but Dr. Anderson and his team did it all in time for Santa to visit children in the pediatrics unit of the hospital.
Flash forward one year … Santa says nearly 1,000 children have sat on his new knee since then. It brings him great joy to hear all the Christmas wishes of girls and boys. For parents needing last minute advice, Santa says the most popular requests are for Legos, American Girl and American Beauty dolls plus electronics for children over age nine.
In the video below, Dr. Anderson talks about how he feels today knowing Santa is doing so well one year later and offers warning signs that people might have if they need a replacement knee. The broll is from last year’s hospital stay and Santa visit on the pediatric floor.