Holding on to hope
Woman survives injuries from ATV accident
By Sarah Bailey
It was late in the evening on Father’s Day 2009 when Larry and Sharon Davis got the call every parent fears — their 21-year-old daughter, Ashley, had been in an accident and was being flown to Shands Jacksonville with life-threatening injuries.
Ashley was riding on the back of an all-terrain vehicle when the driver lost control and hit a tree in the Osceola National Forest. A quick-thinking friend performed CPR while another ran to the nearest house to call 9-1-1. Baker County EMS transported Ashley to U.S. Highway 301, where she was met by the TraumaOne flight crew. She arrived at Shands Jacksonville 11 minutes after liftoff.
“From the minute she arrived, it was obvious that she had some pretty severe injuries and we needed to act quickly,” said Amy Klucher, R.N. “We had very limited exposure to her before she went to the OR.”
When Ashley’s parents arrived at the hospital, she was undergoing surgery to remove her ruptured spleen. She had facial, rib and skull fractures, two fractured vertebrae, and bruising on her heart, lungs and liver, which affected her ability to breathe. After removing her spleen, doctors performed brain surgery to relieve pressure caused by a blood clot. She remained in critical condition for several days as her respiratory problems continued to worsen. When conventional treatment failed, her medical team took extreme measures.
“We had to use a type of ventilator that I believe we had only utilized one other time here in this hospital,” said Bracken Burns Jr., D.O., a UF assistant professor of surgery.
While Ashley’s family and medical team waited for the equipment to be brought from Orlando, they held on to hope that she would live until it arrived.
“The odds were against her surviving, let alone having a good recovery,” Burns said.
After three weeks, Ashley began to breathe on her own, and although she was unable to speak or move anything but her eyes, she had improved enough for doctors to discuss rehabilitation.
“I knew that if they were going to release her … they thought she was at least going to survive,” said Ashley’s mother, Sharon. “Up until then, because of her internal injuries, it was very questionable.”
On July 17, 2009, Ashley was discharged to Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital. Four weeks later she was home, welcomed by neighbors lining the streets leading to her house in Glen St. Mary, Fla.
“It’s funny looking at her now and trying to remember her needing help, walking around on a walker, needing to hold your arm to go around the house. And today she’s fine,” said her brother, Ryan.
Now, the 23-year-old is looking forward to graduating from the University of North Florida with a degree in elementary education. Even though she still has some physical limitations, she is thankful to be able to spend time with her family and play with her young niece and nephew.
“I don’t sweat the small stuff that much,” Ashley said. “I realize it’s not that big of a deal, so I don’t get upset over some things like I would before.”
“It’s a second chance a lot of people don’t get,” said Ashley’s dad, Larry. “We know we’re blessed and thankful to God for his mercy and the hospital and staff.”