Meet the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Andru Clarke

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Last year in March, the CAF distributed 3,256 grants totaling $6.2 million dollars.

Andru Clarke was a CAF grantee, the first ever grantee for wheelchair basketball athlete.

43-year-old Clarke, was living a blessed life as an accountant and small business co-owner with his wife Sarah. He was a loving father to his three daughters, ages 24, 3, and 1, and his infant granddaughter. He had been a track athlete at UCLA.

He was an incredible cook, an avid gardener, and a lover of wine tasting and traveling. In September 2019, Andru was rushed to Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego with debilitating pain in his knee. A recurrent staph infection spread to his bloodstream and latched onto his heart valve. His condition progressively worsened and he ended up in the ICU. A day later he was rushed into emergency open heart surgery to replace the valve; he was given a 5 percent chance of surviving the surgery.

The medication he was given to raise his blood pressure before surgery reduced the blood flow to his extremities, resulting in gangrene. After surgery, Andru was still very fragile and had to be resuscitated three times. To save his life, doctors had to amputate his left leg above the knee and his left hand above the wrist. Andru has been recuperating in a nursing and rehab facility since December 2019.

During that time has also lost four of the fingertips on his right hand and all of the toes on his right foot. Although Andru and his family are grateful that he survived this ordeal, he can no longer care for himself and his family in the same way.  Andru strives to become an active father again. He wants to watch his young daughters grow up alongside his granddaughter. He wants to see his eldest daughter flourish. He wants to be with his wife Sarah. He wants to be able to help financially support his family someday.

For now, Andru remains in need of daily nursing care and is working hard with the physical therapists to gain enough strength to get fitted for prosthetics and go home. When he reaches that milestone, his home will need to be adapted and he will need months, if not years, of at-home care, costs that his insurance plan does not cover.

Clarke and CAF Founder Bob Babbitt joined KUSI’s Paul Rudy on Good Morning San Diego to share his incredible story.

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Categories: Good Morning San Diego