My second day in the ER, I witnessed my first pediatric trauma and time of death. 3yo, 911 trauma, peds vs. auto. He had on a pair of Shrek velcro shoes. I was devastated. I spent an hour crying in the stairwell because I felt so helpless. I thought medicine was a misguided ambition; I thought I wasn’t meant to be a doctor. Ironically, this incident solidified my childhood dreams. But needless to say, I avoided peds ER like the plague.
In June 2009, my PI (principal investigator, she’s my boss when I did clinical research in peds) paged me and told me they were expecting an “exciting case” and I should go down to the ER to check it out. Working in an academic hospital has its perks; I knew her idea of “exciting” meant chief complaint/injuries with academic potential. I stopped by the emrap office to check the medical records to have an idea of this “exciting case.”
My heart sank; 4yo, 911 trauma, peds vs. auto, struck by oncoming vehicle, airlift, induced coma, multiple brain injuries. Every phrase induced sharp pains into my chest. “Let’s check it out!!!” said the emraper on shift. Usually (if not all the time), I would’ve already beat ’em to Resus but today was different. Today reminded me of my 3yo with the Shrek shoes struck by a truck in a shopping mall parking lot. I told the emraper to go out instead and that I had some work I needed to do. I found myself crying in a familiar stairwell.
Fast forward to now.
I’d like to introduce you all to Aviana. She is a beautiful little girl, adopted by two loving parents. She loves Gary Allen and Butch Walker. She’s like any normal little girl you’d know. In June 2009, she was with her grandparents walking along the sidewalk. Her grandpa held her as her grandma was a few steps behind. The two were struck by an oncoming car while her grandma watched in complete horror. Her grandpa presented with a pelvis fx, multiple rib fx, multiple contusions, cuts and scraps. Ariana was thrown out of his arms and landed on her head, suffering numerous skull fx and intracranial trauma. She needed immediate treatment and went into the OR at Sutter Roseville before airlifted to UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
You can connect the dots.
In a second, her life was completely broken and now her family is slowly (but surely) putting together all the pieces. Aviana’s injuries have left her unable to talk, walk or eat on her own; yet, her family makes the best out of everything and count their blessings that she is still alive.
By chance, I found her family’s blog and connected the dots. Their story hit close to home because I also remember that girl in the stairwell who cried for their little girl. When I was in that stairwell, I was completely helpless and passive. When I got in touch with her family, I cried but I was not in a stairwell. It’s different.
I’m happy to announce that this year’s Red Balloon will be dedicated to Aviana and her family. I believe that music goes beyond scalpels and sutures to make someone whole again. With a bit of magic, prayers and red balloons, maybe this one night of music can help with her recovery and brighten her family’s day. And who knows, maybe we’ll be able to change a child’s life. After all, the world can only get better.
All my love,
Jennifer Allison Tran
P.S. Visit and follow her family’s blog at http://avianareese.blogspot.com/