Featured Patient stories Trauma

After being injured in a car crash, Sarah was given a 10% chance of survival. This is her story.

Sarah pictured in Sunnybrook's trauma room

“I am so blessed. Every day I am grateful for my life and all the beauty that surrounds me,” says Sarah who was critically injured in a car crash when she was 22. “There is so much to be thankful for.”

Sarah was in an older car with her sister and their boyfriends on a trip to the Kawartha Lakes. An oncoming car lost control, crossed the centre line and hit them head-on. Sarah, in the front passenger seat, was strapped in with a malfunctioning seat belt. Behind her, the passenger wasn’t buckled in at all. The collision’s impact threw him into the back of Sarah’s seat, crushing it over top of her. The faulty seat belt snapped, and with no air bags she was thrown into the windshield and against the dashboard.

She was airlifted to Sunnybrook’s trauma centre unconscious and was given only a 10 per cent chance of survival. Her lungs had collapsed, her liver was cut in half, and her brain was bleeding. She remained in a coma for six weeks, but miraculously regained consciousness.

Her years of recovery have included 18 surgeries, speech and cognitive rehabilitation, and physical therapy. She had to learn to walk and talk again, with the constant help and encouragement of her parents.

Sarah is legally blind with only a small square of vision remaining in her upper right eye. She has lost her sense of taste and smell, some long-term cognitive and memory loss, and feels dizziness all the time. She volunteers her time at Sunnybrook’s P.A.R.T.Y. (Prevent Alcohol and Risk-Related Trauma in Youth) Program where she shares her story with young people twice a week during the school year in the hope of helping them make good, safe choices.

“I also want people to see that it’s possible to live a hopeful and joyful life, even after going through the worst experience. I live a life that is very full and I feel so lucky.”

About the author

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Laura Bristow

Laura is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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