As a world-class martial arts competition medalist and popular teacher in the San Francisco Bay area, May 61, teaches 30 hours a week and practices for competitions and performances. She also serves as a judge at international martial arts competitions.
A knee injury threatened to end her career altogether. May’s left knee began to swell after workouts, and physical therapy didn’t help. She met with doctors but resisted surgery because she felt it would interfere with her competitions. Cortisone injections and later Hyalgan injections were used to lubricate her knee, but after three months the initial positive effects wore off. Her doctor suggested an allograft transplant. At first May felt strange about donated tissue, but then decided that it would be her best chance at resuming a normal life. She received a fresh tissue transplant from a young donor who lost his life in a car accident, and her recovery was quite remarkable.
Since her transplant, May has returned to martial arts competition with continued success. She serves as judge in international competitions in the Bay Area and as a member of the U.S. Wushu team, she won two individual World Championship medals in China. When she returned home, she sent the medals and a note to AlloSource, which processed the tissue for her transplant, and asked that the medals be given to the donor family.
“Everything I’ve done since the transplant and all that’s to come are because of the tissue donor family,” said May. “The allograft gave me a second chance to fulfill an unrealized destiny.”
May continues to teach and compete with a new life and vigor to her practice. She views her new knee as a gift and intends to keep making a difference with it.