Ashley’s Story: Car Accident Victim Gets Second Chance at Life

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“There are certain cases and people that impact you, and it becomes part of you. This is one of those cases.”

Everything seemed to be going as planned. A fun night out with friends was over, and everyone went their separate ways and headed home.

“We were all out together, all of our girls. It was girls’ night,” Breanna Roberts remembers. “We split up from each other, and that was pretty much all I knew until the next morning.”

One of the girls, Ashley Victoria, did not make it home safely.

“She was involved as an unrestrained passenger in a motor vehicle crash,” says Machelle Kibby, RN, ED. “It was a head-on collision. She was not responsive when she came in.”

Door To OR In 13 minutes

John Bini, Lt. Col., USAF, MD, FACS, trauma surgeon, remembers treating Ashley when she arrived at Miami Valley Hospital.

“We were unable to obtain a blood pressure initially on Ashley,” he says. “Because of the fact that she was neurologically compromised and we were concerned about her ability to support her airway, the decision was made to secure her airway with endotracheal intubation.

Dr. Bini says that Ashley’s heart rate was in the 120s plus, and there were palpable pulses, but he was unable to obtain a blood pressure in her arm.

“At this point in time, that is consistent with somebody that’s in profound hemorrhagic shock, secondary to trauma. We initiated a massive transfusion protocol, which is set in place at the Level I Trauma Center at Miami Valley Hospital, that will actually bring all of the necessary blood products down to the emergency department in a cooler.”

Dr. Bini explains that once they’ve established IV access, the medical team can then get blood going into the patient immediately. They had all of this done in a matter of minutes.

“Ashley also had damaged her spleen, so when the team were looking at her abdomen, they were scanning over it with the ultrasound and could see that her spleen had fluid around it,” says Kibby.

“If there’s bleeding from an extremity or a cut on the head, you apply direct pressure,” says Dr. Bini. “Unfortunately, in this case, we have what’s presumed to be a surgical source of bleeding, so you need to take her to the operating room in an expeditious manner.

“I believe from the time she actually hit the door, to when we left to go to the operating room, was about 13 minutes.”

A Lethal Injury

Kibby says that while they knew there was definitely something wrong with the spleen, they didn’t know there was also a tear in Ashley’s heart. “It was from the blunt force trauma of her being in a head-on collision and not being restrained,” Kibby says.

“Her pericardium, which is the sac that surrounds the heart, was markedly distended, and obviously had blood in it,” says Dr. Bini. “I opened the pericardium with a pair of scissors…and a large amount of blood came out. Once that happened, it released the pressure around the heart, and it was actually able to start beating again.”

It was clear that Ashley had a cardiac injury, and Dr. Bini decided to convert her to a clamshell thoracotomy, where he opened her chest all the way across to the other side and essentially lifted everything up. This allowed access to Ashley’s heart and the great vessels coming off of the heart.

While repairing the tear in Ashley’s heart, Dr. Bini discovered a second tear in her heart. 

“She had a lethal injury, just from the fact that she had a blunt rupture of one of the chambers of her heart,” Dr. Bini says. “But she had two chambers of her heart that were ruptured. I don’t even know of any cases that have been reported in literature of somebody with a blunt, two-chamber rupture to their heart, that’s actually ever survived.”

When Breanna saw Ashley in the ICU, she was shocked. “She was completely debilitated. She was on a feeding tube. There were machines everywhere. She couldn’t talk. Her eyes weren’t open.”

“Just More Meaning To It”

Ashley spent 17 days at Miami Valley Hospital.

“This is somebody who knew that they had truly been given a second chance at being here on this earth, at life,” says Dr. Bini. “She was joyful with the fact that she was alive, and she could go be a mom to her child.”

Now, life is good for Ashley.

“It feels like it did before, but just more meaning to it,” she says. “You look at things just slightly different. Even though I always looked at my son and my family and I appreciated those things…it’s a little bit more. You hold on to those a little bit harder."

“Miami Valley Hospital, I can say hands down, did an awesome job with my best friend, and I’m grateful, forever be grateful, because she’s alive,” says Breanna.

Ashley was glad to have been at Miami Valley Hospital because she had her son, Bentley, there. “I was confident in the staff and the surgeons prior to the accident, and so I was definitely grateful that they were the ones who came and that’s where I was at,” Ashley says.

“There are certain cases and people that impact you, and it becomes part of you,” says Dr. Bini. “This is one of those cases.”

Ashley says that the best thing is still being able to hold Bentley, and be with him. “He lights up everything,” she says. “He’s my heart. To know that I’m here for him is huge.” 

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