Purdy revealed on Tuesday that she underwent surgery for a massive blood clot in her left leg

By Jason Duaine Hahn
February 27, 2019 10:28 AM
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Before she was diagnosed with a blood clot this month that left her stuck between keeping her transplanted kidney or her leg, 39-year-old snowboarding champion Amy Purdy was focused on returning to the Winter Paralympics.

In December, Purdy spoke with PEOPLE about the intense training schedule she has adopted ahead of the 2022 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which will give her a chance to add to the bronze medal she nabbed in 2014 and the silver and bronze she earned just last year in South Korea.

“I still snowboard multiple times a week, I’m still training — but the pressure to compete, the pressure to medal, I’ve taken all of that off of myself this year,” said Purdy, who experienced bacterial meningitis and lost her legs below the knees when she was 19 years old. “This is really the year, the year after the Games, where I take time for myself. I do a lot of work outside of snowboarding.”

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Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty

But in a Facebook post on Saturday morning, Purdy revealed that hitting the slopes multiple times a week while in her prosthetics may have had unexpected consequences on her body.

After experiencing pain in her left leg, doctors discovered what she thought was a problem with her prosthetic was actually a “massive” blood clot stretching from her hip to the bottom of her left leg.

The 33rd Annual Great Sports Legends Dinner, Arrivals, New York, USA - 24 Sep 2018
Amy Purdy
| Credit: Gregory Pace/REX/Shutterstock

“I went from snowboarding 6 hours a day, working out & traveling the world to what I thought was just a simple mechanical issue with my left leg,” she wrote in the post. “When I entered the hospital this weekend with my leg cramping we found out that it’s a much bigger problem [than] that.”

The clot likely developed due to how often she uses her prosthetics during the day, which can sometimes amount to 12 to 18 hours at a time.

“The diagnoses came yesterday & knocked my family & I to the floor physically, mentally & emotionally,” she continued. “We believe the clot came from the pressure of my prosthetic pressing behind my knee where many arteries lie.”

According to Purdy, her previous kidney transplant and an allergy to shellfish initially kept doctors from going through with an operation to remove the clot. At the time, they said she would have to choose between keeping the transplanted kidney she received from her father or losing what remains of her left leg.

“That basically is the decision I have been given over this last day after entering the hospital with sudden pain in my calf,” wrote Purdy, whose representative did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.

The news understandably took an emotional toll on the former Dancing With the Stars contestant.

“Staying positive doesn’t seem as easy this time,” Purdy admitted. “I’ve cried from the depths of my soul over the last two days & I’m sure my husband has seen a side of me he never wants to see again.”

On Tuesday, Purdy revealed she underwent surgery the day before and has kept the “powerhouse” kidney her father donated to her.

“Surgery took place yesterday and grateful that it went well! We are also checking my kidney this morning to make sure it handled everything well,” she wrote in a post on social media. “They had to use contrast but promised me it was a small amount so fingers crossed that my kidney powered through like the powerhouse it is. My dad reassured me that before he gave it to me he put it through much worse.”

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Amy Purdy
| Credit: Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images

Now that she is recovering, Purdy said the health scare has left her with a new outlook on her body.

“Our bodies are so strong yet so delicate at the same time. Being an athlete and having prosthetic legs, I have conditioned myself to power through so much,” she wrote. “That is what has led me to where I’m at in my life but that’s the paradox because it also led me here… Just a reminder to listen to those little whispers and put our health and self care first!”

She added: “Being wheeled into surgery feeling so much love was such a blessing. I can’t thank you all enough for your kind words & prayers. My heart is so full.”

With Reporting by Lindsay Kimble