Tornado Survivor Thankful for Every Step

Running is an astounding accomplishment for Kandi Murphree.

As is her survival.

Now Kandi’s sneakered strides salute the trauma team who fought to save her life and leg. In June 2014, twin EF4 tornados tore through Pilger, Neb., killing Kandi’s 5-year-old daughter, Cali, and leaving Kandi crumpled and unconscious beside her on Main Street.

Kandi was transported to CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center via helicopter. There, the trauma team performed multiple surgeries to repair her crushed skull and fractured leg. She was placed in a drug-induced coma to allow her brain to heal.

It was touch-and-go for days. Kandi’s fight to recuperate — physically and emotionally — took months. To deal with the grief, post-traumatic stress and depression left by the storm and loss of her daughter, Kandi slowly returned to an old hobby.

“I’m a runner,” she said. While rebuilding her life with younger daughter, Robin, Kandi started walking, and then gradually running.

Orthopedic surgeon Karl Bergmann, MD, had repaired the open femur fracture with a titanium rod and expected Kandi to regain 80 percent function of her leg within six months to a year.

She finished a 10K race two years and two days after the devastating storm; that exceeded every expectation. “She had an open femur fracture. These have an increased chance of infection,” said Dr. Bergmann. “She is a very strong woman to go through what she did and improve her life.”

Kandi calls herself a fighter, with angels beside her. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to run again. If it wasn’t for the doctors, I wouldn’t be,” Kandi said. “It’s not easy, but you can get through it with support. Cali — she’s the one who kept me going. And I had the support of the doctors. I love to give them credit.”

Karl A. Bergmann, MD

Orthopedic Surgery,
Orthopedic Trauma Surgery