After a spinal cord injury left 19-year old Mackenzie Johnson a paraplegic, instead of asking why, he and his family asked, “What’s next?”

In 2016, 19-year old Mackenzie Johnson fell 35 feet from a cabin balcony. He was transported by UT LIFESTAR to The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Level I Trauma Center. There, physicians treated him for an incomplete T-12 spinal cord injury. The T-12 vertebra is located at the base of the rib cage, and injuring it left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

“Once I realized the gravity of what had happened,” Mackenzie said, “I was like, how am I going to do anything? How am I going to function?”

The medical center staff helped the family see that life wasn’t over. “They told him, you can still do anything you’d planned before, just maybe on a different path,’” said his mom, Jeannée Johnson. “So, we never asked why. It was just, ‘What’s next?’”

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