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From trauma to triumph


Dr. Robert McIntyre and Alina Miller pose in an operating room

Dr. Robert McIntyre, director of Trauma Acute Care Surgery, with patient Alina Miller

Trapped by a fire in her Aurora apartment building, Alina Miller was forced to jump from a fourth-story window to escape the flames. The fall left her with a broken back and a crushed foot.

Such a devastating accident would have left many people with a crushed spirit as well. But not Alina. Through a series of surgeries, she kept a positive attitude, somehow looking past the pain to focus on gratitude for the care she was receiving. With help from the seasoned trauma team at University of Colorado Hospital, and with the loving support of family, friends, and her boyfriend (now husband), she was able to surmount a series of incredible challenges and emerge with her positive attitude stronger than ever.

Rather than living with a damaged foot for the rest of her life, Alina ultimately decided to have her left leg amputated at the knee—but not before walking down the aisle at her own wedding. Since her amputation, she has returned to an active lifestyle, including running a 5k with a prosthetic blade. She now works for a prosthetics company and counsels patients before and after their amputations.

Instead of seeing her misfortune as a disaster that changed her life for the worse, Alina somehow found a way to reframe it as a turning point to an even richer and more meaningful life. What is Alina's secret? You'll have to ask her. For more of her story, see these articles: