In the Blink of an Eye
“You see it on the news...that this happens to people, but you never think it could happen to you or someone you know. It seems unreal, but it can.” ~ Ty Babcock, 13, Portsmouth, RI (pictured on right)
We all have our routines. They sometimes get interrupted by life – a bad cold or a flat tire. These disruptions, although unwelcome, are kept in perspective. After all, the catastrophic events that shatter other people's lives seem to skirt our own.
Until they don’t.
In the blink of an eye, during the first week of the school year, on what was just another day (no bad weather or dangerous driving conditions to speak of) an SUV crossed the center line on West Main Road in Portsmouth and changed lives forever.
Thirteen year old Ty, his 17 year old brother Daniel, and their father Bryan were on what was to be a 12-mile car ride. Bryan had just picked the boys up from their Portsmouth home, and they were heading to his house in Middletown for dinner. Less than 5 miles into the routine drive, their sedan was struck head on.
Portsmouth first responders immediately declared a mass casualty accident, which requires the assistance of Bristol, Middletown, Newport and the Naval Base. The jaws of life were brought in to extricate both Bryan and Daniel from the vehicle. In the blink of an eye, three lives were left hanging in the balance, three lives were left in critical condition, and bleeding internally. Three lives were in dire need of life saving blood products. Daniel and Ty were taken to Hasbro Children's Hospital, their dad was flown by helicopter to Rhode Island Hospital.
Watch NBC10's Barbara Morse-Silva interview Daniel, Ty & their mom
Although Ty, who was in the back seat of the car, sustained some obvious breaks, his blood pressure was stable, and he seemed to be in fair condition. Unfortunately by the time Ty arrived at Hasbro, it was clear he was suffering much more damage than previously thought. His blood pressure plummeted, and he was rushed into surgery where they discovered massive trauma to his abdominal wall, critical organs, and intestines. Daniel and his father were pinned in the vehicle, their legs trapped under the weight of the engine, which had been pushed into the front driver and passenger space. Daniel’s femurs were crushed, and his blood pressure low, so they worked quickly to free him. Once at Hasbro, he was immediately taken for surgery in order to stop internal bleeding in his intestines. Their father, much like the boys, suffered both crushed and broken bones, as well as internal injuries.
Mom Kate says, "When I arrived at the hospital and saw them, I did not think they were going to make it." The doctors didn't know if they were going to make it. Ty had eight surgeries, and multiple sedated procedures to manage his wounds and injuries. It was months, and many surgeries later before they began to feel as if they would be whole and healthy again.
Throughout their recovery, they needed red blood cells, platelets and plasma transfusions. Kate says, "I never knew that blood is used all along in the process, not just in surgery itself. Sometimes they needed transfusions for days just to get them stable enough to operate, then again during surgery, and after as they healed from each repair." It was the blood already on the shelves from regular donors that saved them.
"If it weren't for blood donors, I wouldn't have my babies," says Kate, who has become a regular donor herself. She hopes people will not wait until someone they love needs blood to give the precious gift that saved her boys when they never expected to need it.
Their lives are better now. Some injuries will never fully heal, but everyone knows how fortunate they are to have lived to tell...Ty is back to playing basketball; Daniel is working through his senior year in high school, and dad is back to spending time with his boys, outside of the medical facilities they recovered in. "And I have my boys," says Kate, "but only because people took the time out of their busy lives to give blood."