Dora student continues recovery
by Daniel Gaddy
Oct 24, 2010 | 3955 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Connor Brewer
Connor Brewer
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After a car wreck on Sept. 23, 17-year-old Connor Brewer endured a broken hip, a ruptured spleen, a shattered chin, a damaged liver, and he stopped breathing three times during an emergency surgery. On Oct. 17, Brewer, a basketball player from Dora High School, came home from UAB Hospital and began trying to walk despite his broken hip.

Conner's father Herbie Brewer said his son predicts a full recovery by Dora High's basketball game with Carbon Hill on Dec. 7.

"He doesn't know how to quit," Herbie said.

Though Herbie credits Connor's tenacity for much his recovery, Herbie said he also believes God guided the hands of doctors, nurses, EMTs, ministers and the hundreds of community members that engulfed the family throughout the ordeal.

"It can never be repaid, but it will never be forgotten," Herbie said.

The collision that injured Connor occurred near the border of Blount and Jefferson counties, near Pinson. Connor was on his way to get a haircut when his car slammed into a dump truck that stopped in a line of cars.

In addition to a broken hip and ruptured spleen, Connor suffered punctured lungs, an emergency tracheotomy, and fractured ribs. Herbie said every bone from Connor's neck up was broken, even the tiny ones in his ear canal. Also, Connor's lips were both split open, and his eyes were swollen shut for several days, Herbie said.

Alabama Life Saver, an airborne emergency service, responded to the scene and EMT Joey DeGeorge performed an emergency tracheotomy in route to the hospital. Herbie said he thanks God every day for DeGeorge's quick action.

Herbie said the Trauma and Burn Intensive Care Unit at UAB was finishing its shift when Connor arrived to the emergency room.

"Those people had been working all day and stayed to help my son," he said.

Herbie said he later researched the TBICU of the hospital and found out the unit ranks as one of the best in the country.

"When your 17-year-old son is in ICU, you do a little checking up and there is nowhere better," he said.

Connor went through an initial seven-hour emergency surgery and another three-hour surgery to fix his ruptured spleen.

Herbie said the medical staff did not expect a full recovery, given the amount of time Connor went without oxygen to his brain.

While Connor recovered in an ICU room, Herbie lived in an RV in the parking deck of UAB Hospital. He said the family saw several patients die in the ICU -- patients that had far less injuries than Connor.

"Part of me felt guilty, but part of me was so selfishly thankful he was still with us," Herbie said.

The Brewer family did not suffer through the ordeal alone, however. Herbie said hundreds of people came to visit them, and thousand inundated their phones and social-networking profiles to let the family know they were placed on prayer lists.

Herbie said his cell phone exceeded the maximum number of text messages 10 times a day. People from across Walker County also brought the family comfort food by the ton.

"We were feeding the entire ICU unit," he said. "Restaurants don't have what we had."

As the TBICU treated Connor and thousands prayed for him, Connor's brain functions improved, and he was taken off the ventilator. Herbie said nurses and ICU workers told him they had never seen anything like it.

"They actually called him superboy and bought him a (Superman) T-shirt," he said.

During his recovery, Herbie said Connor raised his hand to make a scribbling motion, suggesting he wanted to write a message. Herbie said he wrote two words onto the scrap of paper: "Paw Paw."

When he came home, a group of friends visiting Connor asked if he remembered anything from the wreck. Connor told them he remembered leaving his house at exactly 3:17, and his memory cut straight to him walking down the road as his grandfather pulled up in a black car and said, "Connor, you have to go back."

The next thing Connor could remember was waking in a helicopter unable to breathe.

Herbie said Connor's grandfather has been dead for seven years.

Connor still has dozens of doctors appointments, physical rehabilitation and several reconstructive surgeries ahead of him. However, Herbie said he is certain Connor will continue to surprise everyone around him.

"They (doctors) told us he shouldn't be where he's at now." he said.

Debra Jacks, a counselor at Dora High School, said she has kept in touch with Connor through Facebook, and she is amazed by his concern for keeping up with his school work.

"I feel like he is an extra-special young man," she said. "He is a very good kid, very intelligent."

Herbie said Connor hopes to be a neurosurgeon one day. Herbie remembered telling his son in the hospital, "This is just a little too much on-the-job training for Daddy."

Herbie said, though the ordeal has been the most trying of his entire life, he has found an unrelenting faith in his fellow man.

"There is hope in situations that seem hopeless," he said. "There is absolutely no obstacle that people, joining together physically and through prayer, can't overcome, and this situation is proof of that."

Connor said he hopes others gain a life lesson from his experience.

"I'd like to thank everyone for their prayers and support, and remind everyone that none of us know what tomorrow will bring," he said. "Any day could be our last day and we need to have our lives in order, especially our relationship with God, our family and our friends."