AUSTIN - Split second decisions in the emergency room and months of rehabilitation in the hospital. That’s what trauma center doctors and nurses are tasked with every day.
But for many, after those patients are better, they leave and never really see each other again.
Tuesday, St. David’s South Austin Medical Center gave medical professionals and patients a rare opportunity by bringing the two together for a moment of gratitude.
"I just want to say thank you, cause without y'all, I wouldn't be alive,” Austin Eddins told a room full of doctors, nurses, therapists and fellow trauma patients.
Eddins crashed with an 18-wheeler while on his motorcycle last year, losing his leg.
"I owe a lot to that woman right there,” Eddins said as he pointed to his physical therapist, Laura Mian.
Mian helped Eddins learn to walk again.
"To think about where he was when I first met him, and where he is now, it's just amazing,” Mian said.
It’s been a long road for these two.
"On paper he looked terrible, and it's like, 'What am I going to do with this guy?'” Mian said.
The two have now become friends.
"I can't ever let this one out of my life anymore," Eddins said. "This is a lifetime friend -- kind of like family to me."
Eddins said he still can’t figure out how to express his true sense of gratitude.
"I don't know that I have words for that. That's why I keep coming back and giving her hugs," Eddins said.
Eddins was St. David’s South Austin Medical Center’s Trauma Unit’s first patient after it opened in April 2016.
"All these folks went to work on me," Eddins said.
They are people he will forever be connected to.
"Thankful is all I can say, because these people are the ones that showed me, and told me, and made me believe in me,” Eddins said.
It's a similar story for Andrew Deegan.
"I ended up in the trauma center because of a gunshot wound,” Deegan said.
Deegan went through a 10-hour surgery, with at least 10 doctors, and then had a team of nurses helping during months of recovery.
"They're a happy bunch, they always seem to come in at the right time, or check on you or whatever,” Deegan said. "They're my friends now, I come visit them frequently.”
In the past year, Deegan said his life has taken a drastic turn for the better.
"Going from where I was to where I'm at now is incredible,” Deegan said.
And he gives much of the credit to his medical professional team.
"They were the biggest part of my life, or a big part of my life, and they're so nice," said Deegan.
Trauma Medical Director Earnest Gonzalez calls this reunion a unique opportunity.
"A lot of times our patients leave us, and many times we don't get to see them back, but moments like this, to get some closure, and it kind of reinvigorates the care giver team, you know this is where our patients can be," Gonzalez said.
He appreciates this reunion for both the medical professionals and the patients, but for different reasons.
"I think it's absolutely fantastic, I think it kind of re-engages us -- kind of gives us that extra boost of energy to continue on,” Gonzalez said. "I think that bringing these trauma survivors together kind of creates that family environment."
Now they just hope to heal even more patients, and hope to see them come back with more handshakes and hugs.
St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is currently in pursuit of Level 2 trauma status.
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