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Youth recovers from brain injury after van accidentcomment (0)

September 23, 2010

Conor Kirke, 14, does not remember being thrown from a First Baptist Church, Montgomery, van on its way to Lake Martin for a youth day trip Aug. 21, his father, David, said.

But this just may be the blessing Conor needs as he continues his recovery, he added.

Conor suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was ejected from the church van as it flipped several times into the median of Interstate 85. When the van stopped, it landed on Conor from the waist down.

Miraculously Conor did not have any broken bones. But after being placed into a medically induced coma once at Baptist Medical Center South in Montgomery, it took Conor three to four days before he became responsive and about a week before he began saying words. When he finally did start to talk, the first two words he said were “bus, bus.”

“He sat up in bed with his eyes wide open and said, ‘Bus, bus,’ but then laid back down,” said David, a member of the Montgomery Baptist Association church. “He doesn’t remember the accident at all now and he is very cognitive. He knows he’s been in an accident but doesn’t remember it.”

After spending almost three weeks at Baptist South, Conor was accepted into Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which specializes in rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries.

On Sept. 9, Conor was transported by ambulance, with his parents following behind, to Shepherd.

Since being at Shepherd, Conor has met with speech, physical and occupational therapists and has made excellent progress.

“The prognosis is very good,” David said. “He is still in inpatient acute care at Shepherd. ... His progress is great.”

David added that the doctors have set Oct. 8 as a tentative date for Conor to move, from inpatient to outpatient care. Shepherd provides a place for patients to stay during outpatient care, so that they can continue to receive rehabilitation there. Once in outpatient care, Conor will remain there for six to eight weeks.

“They are saying that overall they believe he’s going to make a full recovery, but how long it’s going to be they don’t know at this point,” David said. “They say there’s a good chance that he won’t lose a whole year (in school).”

Even though the most important thing to David and Conor’s mother, Mindy, is that their son is alive and most likely will make a full recovery, the journey has been a test of faith. Mindy had to quit her job so that she could be with Conor, and David, who works for the Department of Public Health, is holding his job for as long as his co-workers continue to donate their leave to him.

“If it wasn’t for our faith and faith family and the tremendous support from our church and other churches, we don’t know how long we would have made it,” David said. “There are days when we get down, but most of the days, we’ve been strong for all those reasons just mentioned.

“We feel like God’s going to take care of us,” David said. 

The other six people who sustained injuries from the van accident were cleared by the hospital and are doing well. To read more about the accident, visit www.thealabamabaptist.org. (TAB)

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