Chastity's Story: Never Giving Up

On October 4, Chastity Rettig had a gunshot accident. “It missed my heart by an inch, missed my aorta by millimeters,” Chastity remembers. The bullet was lodged in her spinal cord, and she was paralyzed.

“I got a call from a Springfield detective about 11:30 in the morning. He said that she had been shot,” says Amy Sebastian, Chastity’s mother. “She had already coded three times. That’s when CareFlight arrived.” When Amy entered the room where her daughter was, the CareFlight team was preparing to take Chastity to Miami Valley Hospital. “She was gray and ice cold, and she looked at me and one tear went down her eye. She couldn’t talk; they had her on a ventilator. They loaded her up and me and her dad watched her fly away.”

“We were told when we got to bedside that she had cardiac arrested three times prior to our arrival,” says Dana Zack, BSN, RN, flight nurse and paramedic for CareFlight. “When we moved her over to our aircraft, she cardiac arrested again. We got her pulse back and then we left. We lost her pulse again when we got to the ER.”

“She was a cat one alert, which is the highest level of trauma activation that we can have,” says Yee Wong, MD, trauma surgeon. “The OR was already available and ready if we needed to go to the OR. And we had alerted the blood bank that we were probably going to need to transfuse her blood as soon as she got here.”

Dr. Wong immediately did a thoracotomy, opening up Chastity’s left chest, and opened up her pericardium, the lining around her heart, to see if there was any blood or cardiac injury. “We didn’t see any blood in there. So, we did open cardiac massage, meaning we did internal CPR,” Dr. Wong adds.

They got Chastity’s pulse back and decided to take her to the OR to explore her left chest to see if there was any bleeding that needed to be stopped.

“That’s when Dr. Wong came out and said she’s going to be okay,” Amy says. “And they said that the next 24 hours was critical. So, I stayed with her.”

Chastity doesn’t remember much of her stay at the hospital or being in rehabilitation. “She got off the ventilator in about five days after her accident. A lot shorter than they thought she would,” says Amy. “After she was off the ventilator and she could talk to me, I knew she was going to be okay.”

“I started at RIO, which is the Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio,” says Chastity. “It was really hard to start … and to sit in my chair because my back wasn’t healed. And then I got it and I learned how to roll over and sit up. And it’s been up since then.”

Dr. Wong says that physical therapy is helping Chastity a lot. “Her motivation to get better, her family support, is also very important.” With the progression of Chastity’s motor and sensory abilities slowly coming back, Dr. Wong is hopeful that she will be able to walk again. “But a lot of it is herself. She’s a very motivated person,” Dr. Wong says.

“I’ve walked on exoskeleton, I’ve walked in my leg braces, and I can feel a lot from my waist down,” says Chastity.

“She’ll get there. I mean, she’s overcame more than what she should have. She had a 0.6% chance of living. She can’t walk like us, but she can walk,” Amy says.

“My mom helps me get through a lot of my bad days,” Chastity says. “You’ve just got to be patient and let time take its time to heal you … and stay positive.”

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Yee Wong, MD

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