Celine Read, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - tibia and ankle
In the middle of a long weekend, living on an island, it is not rare to find almost everyone at the beach. That’s were it all happened. On January 29, 2012, I was with a friend riding in a beach car. Being in the passenger seat wasn’t much of an advantage, because minutes later the little car that seemed harmless was over my right leg. I remember how I didn't even feel the tears running down my face. It was a sudden shock. When the car was lifted up, I felt like somebody had ripped off my right leg from the knee down. I couldn't even breathe right. When they picked me up, I saw my jingly leg, as if I had 3 more knees. I was taken to the smallest hospital in the little town we were in, miles and miles away from the city. The ride seems like a dream today. I remember telling my mom to calm down, as my dad tried to assimilate everything that had happened in just 3 minutes.
My life had turned 180 degrees around. As expected, the personnel in the tiny clinical center didn't have many sources to attend my case, so they applied a cast and did some xrays to see what type of fracture I had. My dad managed to get a helicopter to take me back to the city as fast as they could. As soon as I got there, they opened the cast. My leg was incredibly swollen. We went to a very good local hospital and I was attended by a physician who would ultimately become my orthopedist for the next 2 weeks. My leg was so swollen by the impact, they had to wait for it to drain completely before surgery. Two weeks passed by as I underwent 4 or 5 surgeries as well as draining processes.
My mom had been telling me about the plan of going to the US to verify if everything that had been done right. We researched everything about HSS; how it was ranked number 1 in orthopedics and had the best people to treat me. Dr. Austin Fragomen was the physician who took over my case. As soon as I went to the hospital, the kindness of everyone lessened the fright I felt as a teenager, away from everything I had before. I can definitely say you'll always be in the safest hands as soon as you come in contact with the hospital. I have to admit, when I went to my first appointment and was told "this has to be done again," I knew it was going to be a long ride. However, words of relief were told to me by the PA. "We always win," they said. And so we did.
After one month at the hospital, the previous external fixator was removed and they applied frames to hold my bones together. I got a bone graft, a skin graft (part of my skin was damaged as a consequence of the swelling), tibia and ankle surgery. I thank God every day for teaching me so much at such a young age, and for putting me in the hands of the best people in the world that could manage this tragic case. I will never be able to thank Dr. Fragomen enough for saving my leg. The people who work at this hospital are people that actually leave foot prints in your heart forever. I highly recommend HSS for any kind of orthopedic trauma case and I guarantee you'll be as thankful as I am.
It's a huge thing that now, mid-September, I am walking as I walked before the accident. Being an 18-year-old starting a career you love, enjoying everyday as much as you can, and having all that taken away by a short moment isn't easy. I know I have a great future ahead of me, thanks to all of these great people at HSS.