John’s Story: Trauma Care Puts Injured Motorist on Road to Recovery

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John Samples was driving on a county road in Mechanicsburg, Ohio, crossing an intersection, when he was hit in the driver’s side door by another driver. Both vehicles rolled over and ended up upside down in a ditch.

“It’s the worst call you could possibly get,” said Sheri Ghindea, John’s mother. “I asked ‘Is my son still alive?’ and was told ‘We cannot answer that, you just need to get to the hospital as soon as you can.”

Sheri was told that John was not ejected from the car, but he had to be removed through the back window. He was taken by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital.

John Bini, Lt. Col., USAF, MD, FACS, trauma surgeon at Miami Valley Hospital, recalled, “The first time we heard about John was when our trauma pagers went off and we found out that CareFlight was coming in with a Category One trauma from the scene.” 

“Category One traumas are the sickest patients,” explained Alyssa Gans, MD, trauma surgeon at Miami Valley Hospital. “John was a Category One trauma because he wasn’t breathing on his own, his blood pressure was low, and because of his head injury.”

‘They’re the Reason Why We Still Haven’t Given Up’

Dr. Gans said that the emergency department staff knew that John was sick enough that he was going to need a lot of support over a long period of time. They brought him to the intensive care unit for monitoring and to take care of all of his injuries.

John’s injuries included a traumatic brain injury, clavicle and upper rib fractures, artery damage, collapsed lungs, spinal cord fractures and pelvic fractures. 

Charlie Samples, John’s father, said, “We started counting hours.”

The first 24 hours were going to be the most important, Sheri recalls being told. The next milestone would be 48 hours, then the next, 72 hours. “Once we got through 72 hours, that was a good indication that we may be okay,” Sheri said.

“At that point in time, it’s still very early when you look at things globally,” said Dr. Bini. “All we can do is wait and see where he ends up. That’s a very hard thing to have to tell families, and it’s a much harder thing for families to have to hear.”

Dr. Gans said, “The trouble with an injury like John’s is that you never know how much function will be recovered.”

Charlie kept telling himself, “One step at a time. You kind of count the minutes, then you count the hours. He wouldn’t give up, so I’m not going to give up, either.”

John spent 17 days at Miami Valley Hospital, then was released to a rehabilitation facility. He was able to start his junior year in high school that fall.

“Before, my main goal was to get ready for football season,” said John. “I was in the best shape I was ever in. Now, it’s getting recovered from the accident.”

“From the EMTs, to CareFlight, to Miami Valley Hospital, everything happened the way it had to happen for John to survive,” said Charlie. “They saved his life…they’re the reason why we still haven’t given up.”

John said he keeps his head up and keeps grinding.

“You just got to keep your head up and keep grinding,” John said. “It may seem bad, but … you know it’s going to get better.”

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