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"Life Flight Makes Big Impact on Lives"

The R. family of McCutchenville, Ohio, is forever grateful for the services rendered by St. Vincent/University of Toledo/St. Rita's Life Flight on separate occasions when two of the family's children were in need of expert medical care and quick transport to a Level I Trauma Center.

Branden R., now 17, sustained life-threatening injuries in a car accident on March 29, 2003. In September 2006, his then-two-month-old baby brother, Korben, suffered a skull fracture when he fell from a baby bouncer. Today, Korben shows no signs of his injury, while Branden is still working to recover from the traumatic brain injury he sustained in his accident. He would not be here to fight that fight at all if it were not for Life Flight.

“Branden was seriously injured in the accident,” his father, Keith, said. “His seatbelt cut right into him, damaging his liver, kidneys and spleen. He broke his neck, back and pelvis, and he suffered a right-side brain injury. Originally, they planned to transport him via ambulance to Mercy Tiffin Hospital and then Life Flight him to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. But, when they learned how serious his injuries were, they brought Life Flight right to the scene with an extra flight doctor.”

The flight physicians and crew worked for an hour and a half to stabilize Branden in the field to prepare him for transport.

“It is amazing how they all worked as a team when every moment counted,” Keith said “They were firing up the engines of the helicopter as they loaded him. They took him to St. V’s, and he went into cardiac arrest as they arrived. They brought him out of that and got him into trauma observation and hooked him up to a ton of monitors as they assessed all of the damage. That is when our total nightmare began as we faced just how serious his injuries were.”

Branden was in a coma for nine days. He spent six weeks at St. V’s and then went to a rehabilitation facility closer to home.

“We stayed at “Home Away from Home” while he was at St. V’s, and we could see and hear the Life Flight helicopters coming in and out over by the ER,” Keith said. “This was a terrible time in my life, and yet, it was amazing to see what Life Flight and a Level I Trauma Center like St. V’s can do. Every time I saw one of those helicopters, and every time I hear one today, I think about all of those kids, who, like Branden, never would have made it without them. And the care we received at St. V’s, especially from some of the nurses in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, was amazing. Not only did they take great care of our son, but they looked out for my wife and me too. Someone was always stopping by to see how we were doing or if we needed anything.”

Today, Branden’s family cares for him at home. He also receives care through Mercy Home Care of Tiffin and utilizes physical, occupational and speech therapy services through Optima Rehabilitation Services – a partnership between Mercy Tiffin Hospital and PT Services, and other local rehabilitation service providers.

The Runions said they are very happy with the care their son continues to receive through Mercy, noting that Amanda Wagner, his speech therapist through Optima Rehab, has made a tremendous impact on Branden’s progress.

“She has been here since the beginning of his rehabilitation,” Branden’s mom, Shawnie, said. “She comes out a couple of times a week, and Branden just loves her. She can get him to say words he won’t say for us. She can get him to eat when we can’t. He has made such tremendous progress. It took about a year after the accident for him to even begin understanding his surroundings again, and he has been having to relearn everything. But now he reads and laughs at jokes and says about 10 words verbally. He is even working with his speech therapist on learning to use a communication board. He is also starting to work on standing up. It has been a long road, and we still have a long road ahead, but we are happy for the opportunity to travel it.”

Keith added that he has never forgotten a conversation he had with a parent advocate while Branden was at Mercy Children's Hospital.

“This man came and talked to us and shared his experience of losing his daughter to cancer,” Keith said. “He really helped us put things in perspective. Even though our son had suffered life-altering injuries, he was a survivor – we still had him, and that is what we had to focus on. To this day, we try to maintain that way of thinking and keep our focus on all the things Branden can and will do, rather than on what we lost that day.”

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