Benefit to help injured Forks woman recovering from broken leg

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — Friends of an uninsured West End woman who broke her leg in a fall in September are hosting a bluegrass and blues concert benefit Friday to help with the expense of physical therapy.

Judi Donahue, 62, a bookkeeper and fiber artist who spins, dyes, weaves and knits wool from Romney and Shetland sheep raised on her farm, shattered her femur a few weeks ago and has no funds for physical therapy to keep her muscles from atrophying while the leg is healing, said Colleen Larsen, a friend of Donahue's.

The benefit will feature music by bluegrass bands Crescent Blue and Loose Gravel as well as the blues of Therapy Session beginning at 7 p.m. Friday at Peninsula College's Forks Extension building, 71 S. Forks Ave.

Admission will be by donation.

Gourmet desserts will be auctioned, and there will be raffles between music sets.

Loose Gravel doesn't often play public concerts, so it's a rare opportunity to hear the group play, Larsen said.

Donahue was undergoing medical treatment Wednesday and was unavailable to comment.

Donahue moved to Beaver in 1970 and then to Burnt Mountain near Sappho in 1978.

Small farm

There, she lives on a small farm, Rainey Creek, where she and her husband, Michael, have raised three children, all of whom graduated from schools in Forks.

“She is a shy, kind, gentle-souled woman,” Larsen said.

Donahue is the only breadwinner in her family, since her husband was injured in a workplace accident, Larsen added.

Once a full-time bookkeeper, Donahue's job was cut to part time, which means she gets no medical insurance benefits, Larsen said.

Donahue is a cancer survivor, which has prevented her from being able to purchase an affordable individual insurance policy, Larsen said.

The fall took place Sept. 12 after Donahue's daughter's Sept. 8 wedding in Forks, Larsen said. Donahue was escorting her new in-laws, who were visiting from Wisconsin, to local landmarks.

Larsen described the fall, which took place during a visit to Rialto Beach near LaPush.

Donahue and her new relatives had just visited the Hole in the Wall during a low tide and were climbing back up the bluffs when she slipped on the trail from the beach and landed hip-first on a rock, Larsen said.

After two hours, rescue crews carried Donahue from the beach and transported her to Forks Community Hospital, where doctors found that her femur was shattered just below the ball joint, and she was transferred to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles.

Doctors said the combination of the 2006 cancer chemotherapy treatments plus rheumatoid arthritis combined to make Donahue's shattered femur more severe than it otherwise might have been.

“The doctor said it couldn't be worse. There were bone fragments everywhere,” Larsen said.

Doctors performed the necessary surgery to repair the break with multiple screws and pins, but Larsen said that as a result of not having medical insurance, Donahue was not admitted into a rehab facility for therapeutic recovery, as is the usual treatment for such severe breaks.

Instead, she was sent home from the hospital a few days after surgery to make the slow, painful recovery on her own, Larsen said.

Friends of the Donahue family organized the benefit to get her into enough therapy sessions to keep her legs from atrophying during the healing process.

All funds raised during the benefit will be used to pay for physical therapy treatments for Donahue, Larsen said.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 31. 2012 6:08PM
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