On Saturday, September 15, you have the chance to make a difference in the lives of children right here in your community. The Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) will be hosting a four-mile fun run through Richmond’s Northside to benefit the children in our community who receive care at CHoR.
Children like Lexie Hafey.
Seven months after leaving Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) on a cold December day, 13-year-old Lexie Hafey returned earlier this summer to see some of the team members who cared for her – and to thank them for saving her life.
“I told my mom I wanted to come back and see some of the nurses I had in the PICU,” said Lexie. “They showed so much compassion and love to my family in the hardest time of their life.”
On December 13, 2017, Lexie and her then 18-year-old brother, Dylan, were on their way home from Christmas shopping when their car was hit by another vehicle about a mile from their Emporia, Va. home. Dylan fractured some ribs, punctured his lung and split his lip. Lexie had glass particles all over her body and in her eyes, a gash on her cheek, a fractured shoulder blade and occipital condyle (the joint that connects the base of the skull to the vertebrae), brain bleeds, and damage to her liver, kidney, and spleen. Because of the seriousness of their injuries, Dylan and Lexie, who was in and out of consciousness, were transported by helicopter to the emergency rooms at CHoR and VCU Medical Center.
While Lexie and Dylan were flown to Richmond, their mom, Kellie Smith, her parents, and their dad, Brad Hafey, drove the 80 minutes to the hospital, a trip Kellie described as the “longest ride of my life.” Lexie was seen by specialists in CHoR’s pediatric emergency room, a Level I pediatric trauma center located just down the hall from the adult unit where Dylan was taken.
“The degree of her injury was quite significant,” said David Lanning, MD, Ph.D., professor of surgery and pediatrics and co-surgeon-in-chief, CHoR. “She was in critical condition and had significant injuries to her liver, right kidney, and spleen.”
Lexie was transferred to CHoR’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) where Dr. Lanning said her condition quickly deteriorated. Her blood pressure dropped throughout the evening, and early the next morning, he performed the first of four surgeries Lexie would undergo over five days to control internal bleeding.
Lexie spent eight days in the PICU where she remained sedated and on a ventilator for the first six days. In the beginning, Kellie said Lexie had two nurses assigned to her and “one never left her side, which was so reassuring and comforting to me as a mother.”
Although Lexie doesn’t remember much about the accident or her time in the PICU, her family made sure Lexie’s team members knew about her.
Nearly 30 photos were hung in Lexie’s room so everyone who took care of her could learn about the smiling, energetic girl her family wanted to see again.
“Once Lexie was off the ventilator and started smiling, I just knew she was going to be ok,” Brad recalled.
On December 21, Lexie was transferred to the pediatric progressive care unit. Within a few days, she moved to the acute care inpatient unit, where she had special visitors from the North Pole on Christmas Eve. The next morning, she woke to a stocking full of gifts and presents under the tree. Adding to the festivities, on December 26, she celebrated her 13th birthday with decorations outside her room – and a discharge slip to go home.
Lexie, who began dancing in preschool and has been on a competition team for four years, stopped dancing for nine months after her accident to give her body time to heal. While she admitted to “dancing all around the house” this spring, she was eagerly awaiting her return to the dance studio when she visited CHoR this summer.
For Lexie, a spunky 13-year-old with an infectious personality and strong southern accent, 13 has become a number she doesn’t want to forget. Her accident was on December 13, she spent 13 days at CHoR, and she was discharged on her 13th birthday.
“CHoR helped our family by placing the people in [Lexie’s] path that [she] needed for what [she] had been through,” said Kellie. “From the medical part of helping [her] to the emotional part of being there for our family, I truly believe each and every person who had their hands on Lexie were angels placed there by God.”
Members of the community who want to help support local children like Lexie can sign up for the sixth annual Children’s Hospital Foundation Four Mile Fun Run, presented by Elite Contracting Group.
Wearing everything from superhero costumes to team t-shirts, participants will walk, run or jog through Richmond’s Northside to benefit children like Lexie and so many others in our community who receive care at CHoR.
Best of all, Richmond Mom readers will receive a special 50% off discount code to use on adult registrations now through September 1, just by clicking here.
In addition to the fun run, the event will include live music by the Jangling Reinharts, traditional and vegan fried chicken from the Mean Bird Food Truck, free children’s activities, great raffle prizes, and an after-party at Three Notch’d Brewing.
Learn more and register at www.chfrace.org.
Content for this article was provided by Children’s Hospital Foundation. Richmond Mom is proud to be a sponsor of the 2018 Children’s Hospital Foundation Four Mile Fun Run.