Memorial Hospital - May 18, 2018
by Ilyssa Drumm

An Oklahoma man injured in a horrific skateboarding crash in Jacksonville got an opportunity to thank some of the caregivers who saved his life.

26-year-old George Eklund says he fell 16 feet onto his head while skateboarding at a local skate park in January. Eklund was rushed to Memorial Hospital where he says he spent five weeks in a coma and underwent 13 blood transfusions.

Eklund shared his story along with other trauma survivors at Memorial Hospital Wednesday to celebrate National Trauma Survivors' Day. National Trauma Survivor's Day is meant to bring support to survivors and their caregivers.

Andrew Miller, who suffered a brain injury during a motorcycle crash, fought back tears as he spoke about his injuries and his road to recovery.

George Walker, an ICU Nurse Practitioner at Memorial Hospital and Rob Pike, an ER nurse at Memorial both became trauma patients themselves last year when they separately got injured on the roadways. They also shared their stories and thanked their coworkers for caring for them during their time of need.

After the survivors spoke, they — along with nurses, doctors, EMS crews and rehab specialists walked outside for a butterfly release ceremony. Social Worker Sue Schanen explained that butterflies are used to signify the beauty and changes in our lives.

"Change can be deliberately sought or accidental. It can be gradual as a matter of due course or sudden and inexplicably forced upon us. Any change can be a powerful force for growth and transformation. The key is to see it as a tool that empower us to a new cycle in our greater life experience."

Once the butterflies were released, the survivors had an opportunity to take pictures and reunite with members of the trauma team and other caregivers who took part in their journey.

Since becoming a provisional Level II Trauma Center last year, Memorial has treated 1,800 trauma patients. This was the first time Memorial Hospital participated in National Trauma Survivors' Day.