Recently, not one, but two doctors reached out to the Gillette communications team about the remarkable turnaround of patient Yael Rodriguez. We’d heard about Yael on Christmas, after a tragic accident that brought him here. The 8-year-old (now 9) was hit by a car while crossing the street. His outlook wasn’t great. Initially, it appeared as if Yael would be lucky to walk – or even talk – again. Several Twin Cities media outlets reached out to us to see how he was doing after the accident.
Here’s what Twin Cities ABC affiliate KSTP reported:
According to family members, 8-year-old Yael Rodriguez was struck by the car. The family says he is in the intensive care unit at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul with multiple broken bones and possible damage to his brain and spine.
Yael's mother, Taisha Rios, said the family is "hoping for a miracle." On Sunday, she told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she believes her son is making some progress, as he was able to move his legs on Sunday morning.
Fast forward a little more than a month after the incident, and Yael is not only walking and talking, he was recently discharged and is now happily at home with his family. When we visited Yael to see how he was progressing, a smile had indeed returned to his face. He was playing games with Gillette rehab staff and joking with his mother and sister. Like anyone who undergoes a serious brain injury, Yael’s journey is far from over. However, the fact that he has recovered as much as he has in such a short period of time is a miracle, his mother said.
The nightly news is often full of grim stories – crime, tragedies and even bad weather. That’s one of the reasons we were so excited to hear about Yael’s turnaround from our doctors. We knew it’d be a great opportunity to reach back out to local media who’d reported on Yael’s crippling accident and update them with good news about his recovery. KSTP eagerly came back for an update. So did the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
From the Pioneer Press story:
“…five weeks after the accident, Yael left the hospital able to walk and talk and well on his way to recovery. He can’t ride a bike for now, and he’ll never play football with a doctor’s blessing. But he was on his way home to his brother and sisters in Inver Grove Heights.
“He’s very happy, and I’m super, super happy,” said his mother, Taisha Rios, 30. “We’ll be able to go home, and I get to cook him a home meal, which he’ll love.”
As you may have noticed from pictures in the Pioneer Press and KSTP stories, Yael and his sister are proudly donning Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare T-shirts. No, we didn’t require them to wear them (although, we didn’t argue when they put them on). Often, when patients agree to let us share their stories on Kid’s Health Matters or with media, we give them gift cards, toys and our customary Gillette T-shirts as a simple way of saying, “thanks.”
When the first TV crew showed up to interview Yael and his family, he and his sister were a bit camera shy. But a gift bag that included T shirts did the trick. They excitedly put on their new shirts. Yael was also especially excited to stop by Target on the way home from Gillette and use his new gift card to pick up something cool (which he also mentioned in the media stories – we promise, it was unsolicited).
We’re glad Yael is home and on the road to recovery. However, another silver lining is that we were able to let our community know that not every accident ends in tragedy.