Andy Marso was 22 years old and three weeks away from graduating from the University of Kansas when he contracted bacterial meningitis. He survived the disease, but only after spending more than four months in the hospital, undergoing numerous skin graft surgeries and enduring amputations of all his toes and fingers, except his right thumb.
On April 27, 2004, Andy was in eastern Kansas covering a high school softball game for his part-time job as a sportswriter when he began to feel ill. He started getting chills and broke out into a cold sweat. When Andy woke up the next morning he felt worse. He was nauseous and disoriented and a rash that looked like thousands of small purple spots had broken out on his arms and legs. When he tried to get out of bed he found that he couldn’t walk because it hurt his feet.
His friend Clay insisted that Andy go to the student health center where the doctor on call saw the rash and suspected blood poisoning due to meningitis. An hour later Andy was at the local hospital, and shortly after that he was in a helicopter, being airlifted to University of Kansas Medical Center. After spending three weeks in a drug-induced coma Andy underwent a series of skin grafts and amputations. He spent more than 100 days in the hospital, and to this day continues with outpatient rehabilitation.
Andy received his degree in journalism while still in the hospital, however, he returned to the University of Kansas a year later to participate in graduation ceremonies and give the commencement address for the school of journalism. Despite his amputations, Andy maintains an active lifestyle with little or no assistance.