By Dawn Krebs
TREASURE COAST -- Mariela Garcia doesn't remember March 16. But the trauma care team that took care of her does.
That was the day the Vero Beach resident was run over by a car and rushed to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center with a broken femur, exploded spleen, two broken ribs, a damaged liver and a collapsed lung.
"It left me really damaged inside," she said. "I don't remember that day, or the two weeks afterwards."
What she does remember are all the doctors, nurses and other health professionals who came and visited her daily during her recovery. She spent three weeks in the hospital before she was transferred to a rehabilitation facility.
Now, eight months later, she sat smiling with her family during the Trauma Survivor Reunion held at Lawnwood Hospital on Nov. 15.
With survivors and the care teams in one place, hellos and hugs were exchanged. Tulips were also given to every survivor, to symbolize a life that has been altered due to trauma.
"It's an honor to be with so many people that we've touched," said Thomas Ellison, clinical director and vice president of the trauma center.
The trauma center at Lawnwood Hospital is one of 13 level two centers in the state and provides care to the most critically injured patients in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee counties.
The center opened in 2009, and since that time has served more than 3,500 residents of the Treasure Coast.
This was the second annual reunion held at the hospital, with plans to keep the event going every year.
It's an event that Kiana Hamilton plans to attend again. The 17-year-old junior from Treasure Coast High School in Port St. Lucie was riding a jet ski on May 12 when an accident caused a major skull fracture and she almost drowned.
"The way they took care of her, it was unbelievable," said her father, John. "They call her the miracle child."
Kiana spent two weeks in the hospital before going to rehab and then back to school.
"I'm so thankful," she said. "I still come here and visit."
In the back of the room, a wall was lined with doctors, helicopter pilots and other hospital personnel.
"This is more than a center, it's the whole hospital," Mr. Ellison said.