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Hope Shines Bright Thanksgiving Morning

Ed Heath - 700 Club Producer

It was a beautiful day as 15-year-old Jade Seymour saddled her mustang, Kateri, for an afternoon ride with her friend, Sam. Jade’s mom, Rachel recalls, “When she left, she said, ‘Okay, Mom, I'm gonna go riding. We're leaving now.’ That's the last I heard from her.”  

They were about a mile from the house when something spooked Jade’s horse. Sam, who was in the lead, heard Jade yell and spun around to see her slide off and hit the ground… headfirst. Sam rushed to her side. Jade’s nose was bleeding and she was unresponsive. With no cell service in the remote area, Sam couldn’t reach 911. Reluctant to leave Jade, all he could do was yell for help.

Soon after, Jade’s mom, Rachel noticed the horses had returned alone. She recalls, “It was pretty common for me as a kid to, you know, get bucked off and walk home and-and have the horses come back by themselves and I called for the kids.” She got no answer…

Meanwhile, a neighbor had heard Sam’s yells for help and called 911. First responders were on the way. Deputy Brian Lunquist was the first to arrive. Deputy Lunquist recalls, “I immediately realized that Jade was in very serious condition. It was obvious that there was a brain injury of some sort.”

He immobilized her until the paramedics arrived a short time later. By then, a helicopter had been dispatched to the nearest open area. Deputy Lunquist says, “They just started talking getting everything stabilized and getting her down to the landing zone for the helicopter as quick as possible.”

Back at the house, Rachel recalls, “When I saw the fire truck go by, my stomach dropped. And that's when I knew something terrible had happened.” Rachel rushed down the road to find paramedics loading Jade into an ambulance. She says, “Her hair was matted with blood and dirt and blood, there was a lot of blood.”

The ambulance took Jade and Rachel to the waiting helicopter, that flew them to Valley Children’s Hospital near Fresno, California. Soon after, the hospital called Jade’s dad, Scott, who had been driving home from out-of-town. The information was sparse, and Scott prayed, struggling to stay calm. He says, “I knew there was a head injury. I didn't know if there was a neck or back. I knew it was grave enough to dispatch a helicopter out to our area.”

Doctor Molly Dorfman was the pediatric intensive care physician on duty when Jade arrived. Doctor Dorfman recalls, “When she first came in, she looked incredibly ill. She sort of came in and out of consciousness, to the point where she stopped protecting her airway, meaning her brain had sort of shut down a little bit.”

They called in pediatric neurosurgeon, Doctor Julia Sharma, to assess the CT scan of Jade’s brain. She says, “There was, what we call a contusion in the frontal lobe of the brain on the right side, which is kind of like a bruise within the brain or bleeding within the brain. When you have something that's expanding inside from swelling, and it's stuck against a closed space, which is the skull, the pressure will go up and up. Eventually, if that's left untreated, that will push the brain down through the narrow opening at the base of the skull and can lead to death.”

Doctors had Jade sedated and intubated, and prescribed medication to ease the swelling. Her chances of survival were high, but doctors didn’t know whether she’d ever be the same again. Doctor Sharma says, “I still wasn't sure how she would recover. Because we were seeing already some weakness on the opposite side of the body.”

The next 48 hours were critical, so Scott and Rachel asked others to join them in prayer. Rachel recalls, “The incessant prayer of, ‘God, please be with Jade. God, please help Jade. God, if you can bring her back, please bring her back,’ you know.”

Two days later Jade’s brain pressure was still critically high, forcing Doctor Sharma to perform a craniotomy, removing a large section of her skull to allow the brain room to expand.  While that brought the pressure to safe levels, Jade still wasn’t showing signs of improvement. Rachel says, “I looked at Dr. Sharma and I said, ‘She can fully recover from this, right?’ And she just put her eyes down and she said, ‘Um, we don’t know. We don't know yet.”

The waiting—and the prayer--continued. Rachel posted updates and prayer requests on Facebook. Scott says, “The prayers started pouring in, it was a huge comfort.” Rachel recalls, “I had a friend tell me, ‘Don't let anybody else define what only God can do.’ And that I held onto to the entire time we were there.”

Then, two days later on Thanksgiving… Rachel remembers, “She started to open her eyes and then she could move her right side.” Scott says, “We were finally given a tiny bit of hope. And it was given to us by God on Thanksgiving morning.” And that hope grew. The next day, Jade was able to follow simple commands and communicate with her hand. Doctor Dorfman recalls, “We were able to take the breathing tube out, which is incredible. And-and in doing that we were able to advance her care, get her to rehab, start working on those deficits that we knew she might have and try to get her back home again.”

Jade progressed through her physical, speech, and mental therapy with a speed that surprised her doctors. Doctor Sharma remembers, “All these things that can sometimes take a week to happen, she was kind of doing in the span of a day. That was remarkable. And that was really wonderful to see.”

Incredibly, less than a month after the accident, Jade went home. Jade says, “I got out of the hospital and I couldn't stop seeing the amazingness. Just being home and being able to see my family whenever I wanted to, see my brothers. And be back into a sense of normalcy was really, really important and huge for me.”

Six weeks later, Jade had the surgery to repair her skull. Today, life in the Seymour household is back to normal, except now, Thanksgiving takes on a deeper meaning for Jade and her family.

Scott says, “Every Thanksgiving we get to see the miracle that happened on that day that started turning the corner on that day.”

Rachel believes, “It's just a reminder of, like, life is precious. You know, you look around the table and you just go, ‘this could be so different. This could have been the worst holiday. And now it's the best.”

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