NORTH PLATTE, Neb. — Faced with a choice after being seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, Zachary Wordekemper made the decision that would leave him more “athletic.” That meant losing one of his feet.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center student and North Platte native suffered a traumatic injury to his right foot in an April 2016 crash at the end of his first year at UNMC.
“It was interesting for sure,” he recalled of his time in the hospital. His physicians were blunt about his prognosis — which he was fine with, being a medical student.
Losing a limb, he said, is sometimes difficult for patients. But after undergoing initial surgeries and consulting with his doctors, Wordekemper was comfortable making the call that the foot would go.
“I was coming home from coaching a track meet and crashed on my motorcycle,” he said. “After two surgeries, I decided to amputate my right leg because I would not be as athletic as I would like to be.”
Following recovery, Wordekemper said, he has been very active.
“I’m still doing intramurals; I’ve won four intramural championships for volleyball,” Wordekemper said. “I’ve done dodgeball. I’m still a volunteer coach for pole vault; I still pole vault a little bit. I run. I basically do everything, so it really hasn’t stopped me at all.”
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He is waiting to get a “sprinting leg” with which he hopes to compete at the Paralympics sometime.
“I like to try anything and do anything,” he said. “I’ve loved the challenge it’s brought. I love being unique.”
For others who are facing adversity, he said it’s important to stay positive.
“Everyone has unfortunate things that happen to them or things that suck, but if you’re negative about them, it’s not going to help the situation,” Wordekemper said.
He said there are always people in the world worse off, “so just be thankful for not being even worse off than you are.”
After medical schoool, Wordekemper
plans to go into family medicine and perhaps set up his practice in North Platte. He graduated from North Platte High School in 2010 and from Doane College in 2014.
“My original plan started in eighth grade when we were required to do an assignment of researching different professions,” Wordekemper said. “I researched neurosurgery and decided that’s what I wanted to do — until I got to medical school.”
Wordekemper said he changed his mind because he likes the variety offered through family medicine.
“I really liked family medicine because you get to do a lot of different things,” Wordekemper said.
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