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  • Jackson Miracle Stories

Jackson Miracle Stories

tubed women

Stephanie Jira

“We knew this is exactly where we were supposed to be when we met my medical team. Had I been at a different hospital, I wouldn’t have made it.”

Stephanie Jira, diagnosed with gastroparesis in 1997, faced a challenging medical journey after intestinal pseudo-obstruction, liver and pancreas damage, and a failed small bowel transplant. After 20 years on total parenteral nutrition (TPN), Stephanie sought help at the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI) in 2018. Jennifer Garcia, MD, medical director of adult and pediatric intestinal transplant, and the team determined a multivisceral transplant was needed, listing Stephanie in April 2018. Despite setbacks, including contracting COVID-19 and overcoming lung damage, she received the 500th intestinal transplant at MTI on April 30, 2021. Now 41, she is off TPN for the first time in over two decades, making progress, and plans to focus on her education in nonprofit studies and social justice after reuniting with her family in Arkansas.

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Men doing medical therapy

Carlos Pardo

“The whole team was amazing since day one. They helped me visualize what I needed to do, like move my fingers or my legs, which really helped me. I don’t have anything else other than gratitude for everyone at Jackson.”

In March 2020, Carlos Pardo's life changed when a fall during a tennis game led to a spinal cord injury, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Rushed to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, he underwent emergency surgery and spent 17 days recovering. After being transferred to Lynn Rehabilitation Center, Carlos gradually made progress through physical therapy. Over 18 months, he regained mobility, transitioning from a power wheelchair to a manual one and eventually standing and taking steps with a walker. Carlos now shares his journey on social media and motivates others faced with spinal cord injuries. Grateful for the support from Jackson Memorial and Lynn Rehabilitation Center, he continues his therapy at home, aiming for a full recovery.

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A patient with physicians at a medical press conference

Danielle Press

“My gratitude for the staff, the doctors, the nurses, and the specialists knows no bounds. They played such a paramount role in my recovery and I will never forget them.”

In 2013, Danielle Press faced life-threatening injuries after a severe boating accident off the coast of Key Biscayne and was rushed to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The medical team at Ryder Trauma, led by UHealth – University of Miami Health System trauma surgeon Gabriel Ruiz, MD, and UHealth orthopaedic trauma surgeon Fernando Vilella, MD, saved Danielle’s life, but the sciatic nerve in her leg was completely cut. Allan D. Levi, MD, PhD, chief of neurosurgery at Jackson Memorial, performed a groundbreaking procedure combining nerve grafting with Danielle's own Schwann cells, aiming to regenerate the nerve. This unprecedented surgery, part of an FDA-approved clinical trial, succeeded, allowing for her remarkable recovery. In the following years, Danielle has climbed mountains in Taiwan, swam in Philippine lagoons, and pursued various other adventures. She is extremely grateful for the second chance Ryder Trauma gave her.

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Women at the hospital

Martha Rey

“The minute I walk into Jackson, from the administration to the nurses, I receive exceptional care. Thank you is not enough to say to Dr. Morcos and his team.”

Martha Rey's life took a drastic turn after a routine dental appointment led to a fall in a parking garage where she hit her head. Concerned, she contacted her daughter, who urged her to visit the hospital. While Martha didn't suffer a concussion, a shocking discovery awaited. An MRI revealed a large meningioma tumor on her brain. Turning to Jackson Memorial Hospital for treatment, she consulted with Jacques Morcos, MD, FRCS, FAANS, division chief of cranial neurosurgery at Jackson Memorial, and a UHealth – University of Miami Health System cerebrovascular and skull base neurosurgeon. He proposed a non-invasive, surgical option using computer-based navigation much like GPS in a car. On December 15, 2021, Martha underwent a successful craniotomy to remove the tumor. Her recovery was swift, and subsequent checkups revealed no signs of tumor regrowth. Grateful for the support from Jackson and UHealth, Martha is back to her daily life, cherishing time with family.

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disabled man on bicycle adapted for his condition

Leduar Rivera

“Whenever I needed help with anything, the team at Jackson would always find a way to do it for me. They’ve been amazing. Without Jackson, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. They’re like family now.”

Leduar Rivera, a nursing student, faced a life-altering car crash in 2021, leading to a cervical spinal cord injury. After paramedics rushed him to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial, he underwent emergency surgery to stabilize his spine. Despite partial paralysis and loss of sensation, Leduar's determination fueled his journey to recovery at Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at UHealth/Jackson Memorial. Initially facing challenges in daily tasks, he made remarkable progress in upper extremity movement and became independent in self-care. He was also able to transition from a power wheelchair to a manual one. Now engaging in adaptive sports like rugby, and pursuing his engineering studies, Leduar has renewed hope for a bright future.

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couple in wheelchair

Amy and Kevin Stalbaum

“We count our blessings that we landed here. Jackson’s staff and our community back home in St. Croix really helped us get through this.” –Amy Stalbaum

Kevin and Amy Stalbaum, avid cyclists, faced a life-threatening accident in St. Croix when a car crashed into them from behind during a bike ride. Despite being experienced and safety-conscious cyclists, the impact left both unconscious with severe injuries. They were medically evacuated to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where they both received emergency surgery. Kevin underwent a complex procedure to address cervical and lumbar fractures, and Amy had rods and screws placed in her spine using robot-assisted technology. The couple then received rehabilitation care at Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at UHealth/Jackson Memorial, focusing on mobility, balance, endurance, and strength. Grateful to regain their mobility, Kevin and Amy look forward to returning to their adventurous life in St. Croix.

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