On a dark and dreary night in early December 2020, Mitchell Murray’s life, along with the lives of his family members, changed when his car left the road.
Mitchell doesn’t remember much about his accident, but his family will never forget.
“It was around midnight when we received the call from the QEII,” says Robert Murray, Mitchell’s father. “We were told that Mitchell suffered some traumatic injuries and that it was very important that we get to the QEII as soon as possible.”
Robert and his wife Gwen were living every parents’ worst nightmare. When they arrived at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, they were whisked away to a private room in the Charles V. Keating Emergency and Trauma Centre, where they received updates on Mitchell’s condition over several hours.
While Mitchell was unconscious and receiving trauma care for a brain injury, the family was told the survival rate was very low.
“It doesn’t get more real than that,” says Robert.
Several hours later, Mitchell was admitted to the QEII’s intensive care unit (ICU) for continued critical care from the trauma ICU team and Dr. Robert Green, critical care physician and senior medical director for the trauma program.
The QEII is home to the level one ICU for adult trauma patients in Nova Scotia. The trauma ICU team includes a number of specialized care providers like physicians, surgeons, nurses, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists and pharmacists, who all have the expertise, experience and skill to care for multi-system injury trauma patients.
“We provide all the care that's needed for both the patient and the patient's family, as best as possible,” says Dr. Green. “Our co-ordinated team follows patients’ vital signs on a minute-to-minute basis and we respond accordingly.”
As the trauma ICU team worked steadily over the next several hours, which turned into days, Dr. Green kept the family well informed.
“Mitchell was critically ill with terrible injuries, and his likelihood of survival was in question,” says Dr. Green.
The family appreciated Dr. Green’s compassionate nature, saying he gave them hope. They continued to hold onto that hope through their faith and prayer. The result was nothing short of a miracle, say Robert and Gwen.
“When Mitchell was brought to the ICU, the movement in his legs was surprising to everyone. When Nicole, Mitchell’s younger sister, called his name, he moved even more — that was even more positive and hopeful,” says Gwen.
For nine days, the family watched the professionalism of Dr. Green and the ICU team as Mitchell’s condition continued to improve. Mitchell was then released to the intermediate care unit (IMCU) to continue his journey.
With a lot of determination, Mitchell worked with physiotherapists, occupational therapists and recreational therapists daily. Two weeks later, in early January 2021, Mitchell progressed enough to move to the QEII’s Rehabilitation and Arthritis Centre. There, he worked on re-learning life activities like walking and regaining his speech.
“We watched his progression every day and it was moving fast,” says Robert. “I think a lot of people were surprised, medically, how fast he got to where he is today.”
In March 2021, the day the family had been waiting for finally arrived. Mitchell was discharged from the rehabilitation centre.
“The words ‘I'm going home’ were like a miracle to us,” says Robert. “We never thought we'd see the day. Nicole was overwhelmed and very excited — she's a therapist herself and was looking forward to helping Mitchell here at home.”
While Mitchell doesn’t remember much from his accident, he does remember waking up in the hospital and taking things day by day. He’s grateful for the team who cared for him along the way.
“I felt comforted by the people around me,” he says. “I’ve had nothing but support and help from all the people involved.”
Dr. Green is ecstatic, knowing how well Mitchell is doing now.
“It’s remarkable,” says Dr. Green. “It always teaches me something and humbles me that we can help a patient survive and recover from such a devastating injury. I’m so happy for Mitchell and his family and proud of our team as well.”
Today, nearly a year after the accident, Mitchell is doing well and continues his rehabilitation with the QEII’s outreach team. He’s back to playing cards and washer toss and making those around him laugh with his quick wit.
“I wake up every day thankful I’m still alive,” says Mitchell. “I cannot thank the team at the QEII enough for what they’ve done for me. I know they're just doing their job but they need to know how much their job means to people like me. It's incredible.”
Mitchell and his family extend their sincere gratitude to all involved in his care — the couple who called 911, Brooklyn Fire Department, RCMP, paramedics and everyone at the QEII.