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Saying Thanks

Peeking around an elevator door, four-year-old Lydia Dailey bounced through the doorway to meet the people who helped save her life.

A crowd of nurses, doctors and emergency medical workers applauded with laughter and tears as they saw the Indiana toddler wiggle and jump down the hall.

The last time Lydia and her older brother Caleb entered the hospital doors, they were airlifted to the Sanford Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with severe head injuries from a car crash. Neither child remembers those days in the Fargo hospital, but for their parents, Ben and Jackie Dailey, it’s a time that’s impossible to forget.

“We came to say thank you, but that’s not nearly enough,” says Jackie. “These people saved our kids’ lives and there are not enough words to express what we feel.”

An accident

The Bluffton family was visiting relatives in Adhley, ND in December 2010, when their car was struck by a grain truck. Emergency responders knew Lydia and her Caleb were in serious trouble when they arrived at the scene.

Within minutes Lydia was transported by airlift to Sanford Medical Center Fargo. Soon her brother would be taken from another hospital emergency room to join his sister. Both children had head injuries, and no one knew if they would make it through the night, much less the next week, says father Ben.

“You jump into survival mode,” said Ben. “There are hard decisions to make and you don’t have enough time to even be emotional.”

As the parents arrived at the hospital, over 1000 miles from home, they were greeted by PICU staff and taken care of like family. Medical staff and everyone they encountered worked to meet the family’s medical and emotional needs, the couple said.

Feeling at home

“We come from a very small town, and we immediately got that ‘at home’ feeling,” said Ben. “We knew that they cared for our children and us—that it was more than just work for them.”

The next few days were challenging, but the children began to show signs of healing. Caleb came off his ventilator and gave his parents a “thumbs up” sign. Lydia underwent a procedure to remove a portion of her skull, allowing her brain room to swell.

After eight days, the children were stable enough to be airlifted by the Sanford LifeFlight to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis, where the family could be closer to home. Once they were there, they learned what good care their children had received.

“Lydia was able to have the right side of her skull totally reconstructed,” Ben said. “Our doctors told us that the fantastic job that Sanford did with the initial surgery and the care of the kids allowed them to put the bone right back into place.”

Healing bodies

Over the past year and a half, both children have had rehabilitation and further care for their injuries. Kindergartener Caleb is back to playing soccer and t-ball with his classmates.

His sister still has a brace on her leg and goes regularly to physical rehab appointments. There are some signs that the accident may have had some long term effects on her comprehension and verbal skills, but her doctors and family have hopes that she’ll have a full recovery.

In March, the family returned to the halls of Sanford with their new baby sister Naomi to thank everyone involved in their care. Having a chance to reconnect with people who fought for their children’s lives was something they had wanted to do since returning home.

“For our children, for us, it was pretty awesome,” says Jackie. “It was a homecoming for us. We will never be able to say thank you enough.”

Posted Date: May 2012