A three-vehicle accident in March of 2017 that took place during whiteout conditions in L’Anse township left sisters, Peyton and Skarlett, and father, Ryan, in need of complex emergency care.
The girls were transported that night to UP Health System – Marquette, the Upper Peninsula’s only Level II Trauma Center and regional referral center. The team at UPHS – Marquette was ready for their trauma call when the girls arrived at 10:30 p.m. by ambulance.
Peyton was found to have a severe spinal injury. She would need specialized treatment at the University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s hospital. But CS Mott could not immediately send a plane. The storm that night was still howling throughout the Midwest.
EMS, nurses, medical professionals, and countless staff members rallied at UP Health System – Marquette to give the two young sisters a chance at life. Peyton underwent emergency spinal surgery. General surgery, ICU, ER, and a number of specialized teams and staff members worked together to stabilize the girls and their father until the transport was able to arrive the next morning.
Ellexsis, the girls’ mother, recalled, “It was a horrific night. But everyone treated me with so much respect, so much care. I don’t know if I would have been able to survive that night if it weren’t for everyone who helped me. I remember Dr. Geschwindt coming out and telling me that my little girl may not have use of her arms, and she just sat there and comforted me. They understood.”
The family has since relocated to Arizona, where the warm weather and access to specialty services is aiding in the sisters’ recovery. Skarlett was able to have her half-body brace removed on her sixth birthday. And Peyton, now eight, is adjusting to her wheelchair, and with the use of a Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) bike, Peyton has experienced some deep tissue sensation in her legs. Peyton is still pursuing her love of dancing, and will be participating with The Rolletes wheelchair dance troupe in Los Angeles this year.
“The community has always supported us through this. The UP is our home. And we wanted to say thank you to everyone,” Ellexsis said.
She continued, “I can’t stress enough what they did that night to save my family at the hospital. Those nurses, the doctors, everyone. They made me feel like everything was going to be OK. Even the doctors in Ann Arbor said that the spinal surgery was perfect, that everything they did saved them.”
“I will forever be grateful for every single person that was on duty. My husband and my daughters wouldn’t be alive today without the Marquette hospital.”