Jonathan's Story: Parent's Letter Project Traumatic brain injury- Jonathan's parents

Our son, Jonathan, was in a serious car accident in July of 2007. He was riding with his sister and his grandparents on the way to get something to eat. While sitting at a red traffic light, they were rear ended by an SUV that was proceeding at approximately 60 miles an hour at the point of impact. While all of the passengers in the car were knocked out temporarily, Jonathan, who was 12 at the time, caught the brunt of the impact. The seat that he was in was totally crushed and the police department and paramedics had to use the "jaws of life" to pry him from the car. The best stroke of luck that we received immediately following the accident was that they took Jonathan to Children's National via helicopter because of his age rather than to a local hospital nearby.

From the time that he arrived at Children's, Jonathan was treated with the best care he could possibly have received, not just locally but throughout the world. He was a patient in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Children's for five days where he laid motionless and non-responsive as he suffered a traumatic brain injury during the car accident. Children's possessed the facilities, equipment, doctors, nurses, and other aides to make a trying circumstance as palatable as it could have been for us as parents. They performed two CT scans on Jonathan the night of the accident, as he was still not responding to verbal or physical cues, and they wanted to ensure that there was no bleeding on his brain. The ICU unit had a nurse assigned to him around the clock, and more importantly they had a waiting room with bedding to allow us to stay at the hospital around the clock while they treated and monitored the progress of our son. We were able to converse and interact with other parents with children who were being treated for cancer and other serious illnesses or injuries. It was very therapeutic for all of us to be able to talk with other parents with children requiring critical care.

After a day or two, while still unconscious, Jonathan was starting to show reflex responses to the treatments he was receiving. He became especially agitated when they had to re-attach his IVs or change his catheter. Although only 12, Jonathan was very large for his age and had heightened strength since he felt threatened as he was still in an unconscious state. He exuded so much strength that the staff sought our assistance to calm him down emotionally and to restrain him physically while they performed the treatments that agitated him the most.

On the fourth day, they administered a feeding tube to Jonathan so that he could get some nutrients. That was an especially agitating experience for him as they had to insert the feeding tube through his nose and into his throat. While inserting the feeding tube was not a pleasant experience for Jonathan, it was vital to his recovery and later on that day, he opened his eyes for the very first time. Once he was able to open his eyes and show some response to verbal cues, they were finally able to move him from the ICU into his own room.

On the fifth day, he opened his eyes and on the sixth day he began to speak. On the seventh day, he began to receive physical therapy and was reviewed by a battery of doctors to determine the next course for his recovery. Thankfully for us, his entire treatment from intensive care to the initiation of physical therapy took place at Children's. The doctor's who treated him initially were able to recommend that the next stage of his recovery take place at the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) rather than simply releasing him to go home. Jonathan spent two weeks at NRH following his week at Children's and two weeks after that at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore to participate in its specialized reengagement program that was recommended by a doctor that was on staff at Children's and NRH.

We are thankful and happy to report that two years after the accident, thanks to the exceptional care Jonathan received from the first responders and the entire staff at Children's, he has made a complete and miraculous recovery. He's returned to all activities. That even includes football, thanks to a referral that we received from one of Children's doctors, who is the chairman at George Washington University, for brain injuries and sports. Jonathan was the MVP of his school football and track teams and a standout on the basketball team, while maintaining a 3.9 GPA in honors classes.

We cannot even begin to thank the staff at Children's for the care that they provided our son while in the ICU and the support and information that they provided us throughout the process. Because Children's is equipped with so many specialists who focus not only on diseases, illnesses, and injuries, but also because those experts and specialists have extensively worked with children requiring treatment, we were truly blessed that Children's was where our son was taken for his treatment. Even after his physical stay at the hospital, the network of doctors not only enabled Jonathan to make a full recovery, but also allowed him to continue all of the activities that he loves and is blessed to do.

Based on our experience, we would give the highest recommendation possible to make Children's your hospital of choice in the event that you are faced with a situation where you need emergency/critical care treatment for your child. It made the world of difference to us in the treatment of our son and we are confident that the same can happen for you. We call him our \"miracle child\" and the miracle of his recovery was facilitated by the treatment and care that he received from Children's.

Sincerely,

Jonathan’s Parents, Andrew and Darlene

Treatment Team

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