Three days ago my fifteen year-old niece, Elise was involved in a horrendous car accident, being thrown from the vehicle and suffering a compression injury and fracture in her lower spine. She has had two surgeries, including a seven hour ordeal today to fuse three of her vertebra. Tonight, she is in I.C.U. in critical condition and in for the fight of her tender, young life. It’s way too soon to tell what degree of sensation or function she might regain. I saw the x-rays tonight. It was a bad injury.
Blessedly, all others involved are doing very well.
I’ve spilled more than a little ink on this blog over the withholding of critical care resources from humans who have been judged unworthy of them, and for a moment, I would like to praise the medical staff at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia who have shown how wonderful medicine can be, who have lavished their care on this special young girl. Teams of neurosurgeons, cardiologists, internists, nurses, therapists, social work, pastoral care, have descended on Elise and given her a level of technology, medicine, and loving care that are unrivaled anywhere. Her I.C.U. nurse this evening, Marie, met with the overwhelming approval of my wife who is a very accomplished PICU/NICU nurse.
When it’s done well, it is a spectacular sight to behold. Elise’s care is nothing short of a symphony of modern medicine.
She’s the kind that everyone in medicine fights a little harder for. She’s young, beautiful, bright, deep, soulful. She has it all before her, and if this course of action should not produce the hoped-for outcome, then Regina and I will pursue adult stem cell therapy for her. Time is on this little one’s side.
As for the bioethical work I’m doing with so many great people, the task before us is to get the medical community back on track, to restore the appreciation for the fact that those not as healthy, or beautiful, or bright, or deep, also share the same fundamental dignity as Elise. They contribute in ways that are radically different than my niece’s, and are just as deserving of the lavish care Elise has received.
That, however, is a fight for another day. For now, we have a beloved child of the family in the fight of her very young life, and she needs us as well. The blogging may be very light over the next two weeks as we circle the wagons.
On behalf of my family, I’d like to thank everyone who responded with prayers on FB last night. They are the best medicine of all, and carried this very badly injured child through a grueling surgery today with no complications. She remains critical, but very stable, and given the extent of her injuries, there is no doubt that the prayers are carrying her through.
I have a new pro-life endeavor that I’ll be announcing next week, but in the interim Regina and I just wanted to say thank you again for all the prayers.
UPDATE 9/10/11: PROGRESS! Read about it here.