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December 12, 2017

An 18-year-old's emotional journey to find the nurse who saved his life

Daily Briefing

    Caleb Johnson was seriously injured in a car accident when he was just one year old, surviving in large part because of the tireless efforts of a nurse at Medical City McKiney. Seventeen years later, he launched a search to say thank you.

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    The accident

    On Nov. 22, 2000, Caleb and his family were driving from McKinney, Texas, to Austin to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family. But as they drove through an intersection, the car was struck by an 18-wheeler.

    The crash claimed the lives of Caleb's parents, injured all four of his siblings, and resulted in traumatic injuries to Caleb's head. Caleb was pulled out of the car window by paramedics. His sister—Kirsten Moody, who was 12 at the time—said, "They didn't think Caleb was going to make it."

    Caleb was rushed to Medical City McKiney, which was then called North Central Medical Center, with multiple skull fractures and collapsed veins. After trying and failing multiple techniques and locations to start an IV that would give Caleb life-saving medication, a nurse tried one last-ditch effort: She made a small incision into Caleb's ankle and administered the medication directly to his bone marrow. The procedure, called intraosseous infusion, worked.

    After multiple procedures to treat his traumatic brain injuries (TBI), Caleb recovered, and along with his siblings, eventually moved to Utah, where they were raised by an aunt and uncle. Caleb, now 18 years old, has launched a website, Caleb Electric Brain, and plans to run multiple races to raise awareness about TBIHe intends to attend Utah Valley University to study culinary arts.

    Searching for the nurse who saved his life

    Caleb credits the nurse who did not give up on starting his initial IV with saving his life. At 18 years old, Caleb embarked on a journey to find the nurse and express his thanks. In a now viral YouTube video, Caleb said, "I was just thinking 'Hey, if this nurse was so great and actually saved my life, I want to reach out to her and say thank you.'"

    Ultimately, Caleb learned that the nurse who saved his life passed away from cancer several years ago. "Thank you so much for your help! We have been overwhelmed by the response," he wrote on his Facebook page. "Thanks to you, we were able to connect with the right people and we got the name of the nurse. Sadly, we learned that she passed away years ago from cancer. Of course we were very devastated to hear this news. But we still very much want to get in contact with her family so we can thank them."

    Caleb said he and his family have been able to get in touch with other providers on the medical team who cared for him after the crash. Caleb and his family also hope to travel to Texas over Christmas to meet with the family of the nurse (Zoga, NBC5, 12/5; Gibson, Nurse.org, 12/6).

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