Go Jim Go: When emergency hits close to home, Le Bonheur was there

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When a person is in distress or requires patient care, Chris Lea and Tracey Haywood know all about being lifesavers and helping people in need of being rescued.

Chris is the director of Emergency Medical Services in Brownsville and Tracey is a registered nurse.

"You're a nurse, but when it's your child, you're a mom, and that goes out the window," Tracey said.

Sometimes an emergency can hit close to home. Sometimes an emergency can become personal without any warning.

"I got a page on my phone to our address with a 10-year-old boy who had hit a tree on a four wheeler and was unconscious," Chris said.

That 10-year-old was Chris and Tracey's youngest child, Joseph.

"I was told I hit a tree," Joseph said. "I was unconscious. I couldn't speak."

Aug. 10 of last year, Joseph was riding his four-wheeler at home and without a helmet when he hit a tree.

That day he was coming up the driveway and took his eyes of the road for a split second and was headed toward a smaller tree and over corrected and went into a larger tree in the yard head on.

That head-on crash led to some frightening moments.

"When I first got to him he was unconscious. My first thought, he was dead."

Joseph had a closed fracture of his femur, a severe open head laceration and three broken vertebrae in his back. The severity of the accident turned this family's world upside down.

"I've spent my whole career trying to help other people and for that second, I didn't know what to do. I was absolutely lost," his dad said.

But they knew where Joseph would need to be to receive the best care possible. He was flown by Hospital Wing to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

Joseph was met on the landing pad by a team of specialists working with and from Le Bonheur with one mission in mind — save Joseph's life.

"I think EMS, ground transport, wings, everybody working together is so important because the amount of time you can save really can translate in mortality versus a save," said pediatric surgeon Dr. Ying Zhuge.

"There was trauma, neuro, orthopedic and plastic surgeons waiting on him," his parents said. "We walked in and the chaplain was right there at the door."

For 10 long days, Joseph was in intensive care. But his parents say what made the difference in his recovery were his doctors and nurses.
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"It takes a special person to be a nurse and deal with what they do, but it takes a special person to be a Le Bonheur nurse."

Joseph underwent physical therapy at Dynamix in Brownsville and made a full recovery. He went back to school after two months and became an honor roll student .

"It's a year later. He's a miracle. Folks don't believe in miracles, he's one."

One year later, his parents have given Joseph the okay to get back on his four-wheeler, but with one exception.

"He wasn't allowed until he got a helmet. ... He plays basketball and likes to get out and throw the football and play in the yard. He's back to being a little boy."

A little boy with a big heart, who just last Christmas wanted to go back to the hospital with the giant heart to show his doctors and nurses how he was doing.

"He said, 'Daddy, I want to go when I can walk back in,' and he did. ... Was that a miracle? Absolutely, everyday."

They call it a miracle of life thanks to Le Bonheur, which saved the life of a smart little boy named Joseph.

"I'd want to say thank you for saving my life."