Donor Story

Giving Back in Gratitude

After Child’s Remarkable Recovery, Family Shows Appreciation to UNM Children’s Hospital

By Michelle G. McRuiz

Posted February 16, 2016

Since April 15, 2013, the Gibson family is more careful about everything, especially mundane activities like driving and crossing parking lots. They give thanks often because they now know how quickly and deeply a family can be affected by a random, horrific accident. Gene Hynes, grandfather to the Gibson girls, showed his thanks with a donation this past summer to UNM Children’s Hospital in Charlotte and Haley Gibson’s names.

Left to right, Haley Gibson, Gene Hynes, Charlotte Gibson and Mary Ann Hines meet in the UNM Foundation lobby to receive a few gifts for Charlotte in appreciation of the family’s generosity and Charlotte’s courage. Photo: Natch Anan

Left to right, Haley Gibson, Gene Hynes, Charlotte Gibson and Mary Ann Hines meet in the UNM Foundation lobby to receive a few gifts for Charlotte in appreciation of the family’s generosity and Charlotte’s courage. Photo: Natch Anan

In the Blink of an Eye

That evening in April, David Gibson was walking across a parking lot, hand-in-hand with his daughters Charlotte (Little), 4, and Haley, 11. Suddenly, a driver who wasn’t looking where he was going struck them. David and Haley were knocked aside; Little’s hand was torn from her father’s as the car pulled her under its wheels. The driver had run over Charlotte from her feet all the way up to the base of her skull. “He knew he had hit something; he just didn’t know what,” said David. “I’m screaming and yelling. He backed off of her. Little was lying there, sort of conscious, and there was a lot of blood.”

Within minutes, Charlotte was placed into an ambulance and rushed to UNM Hospital. Because of the severity of the trauma, it was challenging to ascertain what her injuries were at first. “They thought she had fractures to her pelvis, face, and vertebrae,” said Amy Gibson. The way she was run over, the doctors said, was like a tube of toothpaste being squeezed from the bottom up. But as the first 24 hours crawled by, a miraculous reality emerged.

Charlotte’s ribs were not fractured. Her brain scans were unremarkable. Her liver and intestines were in good shape. “When they put her in the ambulance,” said Amy, “one of her legs was inches longer than the other. At some point during her stay, her leg was reset and returned to its normal length.” After two days in pediatric ICU, Charlotte was moved to the pediatric floor.

There was one problem: Charlotte was in a neck brace and complained of pain every time the staff removed it. On the fourth day, her doctor wanted to try again to remove it. A therapy dog distracted her from the pain, and she stood up, brace-free, surrounded by nurses and family.

She said she couldn’t feel her toes. Everyone stopped. Her nurse touched her feet and toes, asking, “Can you feel this? This? This?”

“Oh, yeah,” Charlotte replied. “I was just messin’ with you.”

Continued Healing

After five days, Charlotte went home without the wheelchair or walker her medical team initially thought she would need. “I was so happy [to see Haley] that it made me better,” she recalled. She had six minor pelvic fractures, which healed naturally. Her collapsed lung “reinflated” on its own. Follow-up medical visits showed excellent progress.

Gene “was overwhelmed with the level of care Charlotte received,” said Amy. “Everyone was compassionate and right there when we needed them. The pediatric nurses were so patient and kind. [Gene] still believes her healing was miraculous, so he wanted to give back to UNM.”

More than anything, Gene Hynes, his daughter and son-in-law, and his granddaughters now understand how deeply a family can be affected in just one brief moment.

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