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Paul Kent Running Boston Marathon Less Than 18 Months After Double Amputation

BOSTON (CBS) -- Walking the halls at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital with Paul Kent, who goes by "PK," is like being with a celebrity. There wasn't a doctor or therapist who walked by that didn't say hello.

"Sometimes the student becomes better than the teacher," Physical Therapist Urvashi Cogle says smiling. "I taught Paul to walk, and here he is doing a marathon!"

PK, a father of two grown sons, will run his first Boston Marathon less than 18 months after having a bi-lateral Ewing surgery, a double amputation below the knee. The surgery was performed by Dr. Matthew Carty at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Using bionic advancements, it results in a limb that functions more naturally.

After a decade of suffering with a genetic neuropathy that had already cost PK parts of both feet, the surgery in late 2020 was a gift.

"It ended a decade-long journey of a lot of pain and suffering—mentally, emotionally, physically obviously. And a lot of uncertainty to the point where I didn't even plan things three months ahead."

He says he woke up after surgery on December 2, 2020, with all of that agony behind him.

Since then, he has been a very motivated patient. PK surfs, golfs, swims and runs. Before the neuropathy compromised his health, he participated in marathons, triathlons, and even Ironman competitions.

"People ask, 'Why are you so active?' It's because I can be and I haven't been able to be."

He is running the Boston Marathon for the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Spaulding Rehab Hospital (both members of Mass General Brigham).

He says those were the places that helped restore his health and mobility. He is also mindful of the advancements in care that other fundraising runners have helped to make possible since the marathon bombings. Innovations in trauma care—particularly for amputees—have taken place in Boston because of a community-wide determination to help people reclaim their mobility and their quality of life.

PK says his marathon will also be a tribute to everyone who is part of that.

"What happened that horrible day in April of 2013 put together what everybody's familiar with as Boston Strong. But Boston Strong created another layer I call "Boston brilliance." And that brilliance is why I'm here, alive today and able to do this."

PK laughs about the singlet he'll wear on Marathon Monday. It's a mash-up of the Stepping Strong and Spaulding racing shirts. He will wear racing blades that he only received seven weeks ago.

But he shrugs off any suggestion that the newness will create a challenge. In fact, since the surgery he says he's been solely focused on what he can do.

"There's no loss. In my vernacular, there is no loss. There's limb difference. That's all there is … It's mind over matter at some point. It's how you approach it."

Smiling, he says this is the longest period of time in more than a decade that he hasn't been hospitalized, had surgery, been on medication, or spent time doing wound care. He is eager to experience the supportive crowds of spectators on Marathon Monday and the camaraderie of the other runners. He says any nervousness he feels is a good sign, proof that he's invested in the challenge.

"My victory is showing up at the starting line. This is an extension of the gift I got in December of '20…Everybody gets to have challenges and push themselves. This just happens to be my course."

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