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Trauma patient, crushed by car, makes stunning recovery

Shining Knight Gala shares David’s story and what it’s like to be a member of VCU Health’s lifesaving trauma team. 

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By VCU Health News

On July 12, 2011, everything changed for David Girard. A successful electrician with a wife and two young children, David had just driven his daughter to summer school when he swerved off the road and into a telephone pole. Ejected from his car, the massive vehicle resting on top of him, David was crushed, bleeding and barely conscious when an ambulance rushed him to VCU Medical Center.

It was there, at VCU Health’s Level-1 trauma center, that doctors, surgeons, nurses and so many others began work to save David’s life. They had a lot to do. David had shattered his pelvis and broken all of his ribs. He injured most, if not all, of his internal organs, causing massive bleeding and infection. He underwent countless surgeries on the spot.

“I was told I would never walk or eat again, which was devastating to me,” David said. “I could have died on my 39th birthday.”

Not only did the trauma team save David’s life, but he’s walking, eating and has a new career as a social worker. “I wanted to become a social worker because of the social worker who helped me out so much while I was in VCU. I wanted to give back. I wanted to help people.”

Giving back

Since his recovery, David Girard has traveled to Haiti on several mission trips, applying his electrical and construction skills to rebuilding efforts. He earned an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s, then a master’s in social work. He now works at a social service agency for the elderly.

David credits his trauma, ICU and recovery teams with giving him his life back.

“At VCU, I am a person, not just a patient,” he said. “Getting out of that wheelchair strengthened my body, mind and soul. If not for the encouragement from everyone at VCU, I would still be sitting in that chair.”

A Level-1 trauma center — the gold standard of emergency care

The VCU Health Level-1 Trauma Center treats 4,500 people each year. It’s a unique system of care that only a Level 1 Trauma Center at an academic medical center can provide.

Learn how the VCU Health trauma team responds to a crisis

In the full video of the Shining Knight Galas below, members of the trauma team give moving accounts of what they see, do and experience in emergency medicine. From the firefighters and paramedics who arrive on the scene and stabilize the patient for transport, to the doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists at the trauma bay who concentrate first and foremost on saving life, to the physical medicine doctors, nurses and therapists who give their all to returning the injured to their former function, these are their stories.   

Support the Shining Knight Gala

Held annually, VCU Health’s Shining Knight Gala recognizes the “shining knights” who save people like David every day.  This year’s gala was held virtually on May 21. The gala serves as a fundraiser for VCU Health’s injury and violence prevention programs.

Whether someone conducted CPR, performed a surgical procedure, provided emotional support or physical help at a vital time, we all have Shining Knights who have touched our lives who deserve to be honored and thanked.

Support VCU Health’s Shining Knight Gala.

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