MAYWOOD, IL – Delfino Garcia was exiting a bounce house at a neighborhood party when the 4-year-old fell headfirst onto the asphalt.
"He cracked his skull and his eyes were immediately swollen shut," said his mother, Beatrice Garcia, of Cicero, Illinois. Delfino was transferred from a community hospital to Loyola Medicine hours after the September, 2015 injury. "He needed specialized care and fast. I thank God every day for Loyola. He is completely recovered and is a normal, active, little boy."
The Garcias celebrated at Loyola University Medical Center's Big Save Barbecue on Saturday, October 8, 2016.
Patients who come to Loyola Medicine's Level 1 Trauma Center with such severe injuries are dubbed "Big Saves." More than 1,000 Loyola trauma patients and their families were invited to reunite with Loyola medical staff and share their survival stories at the sixth annual Big Save celebration. Tales of recovery this year from patients ages 4 to 67 included gunshot wounds, motorcycle crashes and falls from rooftops.
"You inspire us. You drive us on to keep doing what we do to help others," said Richard Gonzalez, MD, director of the division of trauma, surgical critical care and burns. "Together, we move forward and we make people better."
Patients and their families shared more than hot dogs, hamburgers and cake. They also shared inspiring stories of survival and recovery.
Joe Olsen, 59, of Oak Park, Illinois, fell 20 feet from a rooftop. “I had recovered from cancer and, as a way of thanking God, was volunteering at my church doing repair work," he explained to the audience. “I smashed my face, broke my ribs and wasn't sure I was going to survive a major health crisis a second time. But I am here. My face had to be completely reconstructed and it took months of healing, but I am here.”
Magdalena Witkos, 40, of Elmwood Park, Illinois, fell from a third story balcony in March, 2015 and her injuries included extreme head trauma, a fractured pelvis and cracked ribs. “I am not only alive but am back to work and recently completed a 5K race, thanks to those I call the medical masters at Loyola,” said Ms. Witkos. "I recently renewed my CPR certification and I hope to save someone's life, just like Loyola saved mine."
Loyola's Level 1 Trauma Center is equipped to provide the most comprehensive emergency medical services to patients suffering traumatic injuries – car and motorcycle crashes, stabbings, athletic injuries, falls – using the most advanced, multidisciplinary treatment and specialized resources from a full team of medical professionals.
"Loyola has made an incredible commitment to offer the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the entire state of Illinois to be verified by the American College of Surgeons," said Dr. Gonzalez. "And you are the reason why."