17 year old defies the odds
Walks at graduation
High school graduation was even more exciting at Muenster High School this year since Abby Pagel was able to walk across the stage to receive her diploma.
In February 2014, five girls were in a horrific car wreck near the baseball fields in their hometown Muenster, TX – Abby Pagel was one of them. By the time her parents arrived at the scene, first responders were surrounding the wreck and Abby’s mother, Laura, was searching for her 17-year-old daughter.
“Abby was face down on the other side of the 12-foot fence,” said Laura, “The car was on one side and Abby was on the other. It was a miracle that any of these girls survived; I know they each had angels watching over them that night.”
After being transferred by Careflight to a hospital in Plano, Abby spent 12 days in the ICU with numerous broken bones, a small brain bleed, and was in a coma. She was then moved to an acute care center in Corinth and started to wake up, moving her legs and arms constantly.
Especially being from a small Texas town, the support Abby received from family and friends was immense. The first words Abby said were the names of the other four girls in the car wreck that day. She was more concerned if they were ok than the fact that she was in a hospital. Abby spent 13 days in the Corinth facility until the day she was moved to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
Laura said, “Abby was in need of rehab and had the option of going to a couple different places. As soon as we saw Cook Children’s, we decided this is where we would be moving Abby to.” Within one day, Abby was being transferred to Cook Children’s.
“We arrived at Cook Children’s and were put in a private room. I had been sleeping on a cot in the other facilities, but there was a couch in Abby’s room. That night I slept on the couch and for the first time I didn’t get up in the middle of the night. The nurses took such great care of Abby,” said Laura.
As a senior in high school, Abby‘s biggest concern was that she would miss her senior class photo with the rest of the graduates in her cap and gown. “Her class said if she can’t come to us, then they are coming to Cook Children’s.” Laura told us, “Abby was able to leave the hospital to go to her senior class photo and it was the first time for many of the kids in her graduating class to see her since the accident.”
The Pagel’s spent 57 days at Cook Children’s before Abby was able to return home. While Abby is still going through physical therapy and recovering from the accident, she has made immense progress in the past few months. Abby returned home in time for her high school graduation. Abby walked across the stage and received a standing ovation as she accepted her diploma.
"To hear that Abby was able to walk across the stage for her graduation is a testament to what happens in the Neuro-rehab unit. At one point I wasn't sure if she would ever walk again,” said Fernando Acosta, Jr, M.D., Cook Children’s pediatric neurologist and Abby’s doctor. “The most important ingredient in her recovery is the incredible effort that Abby put in day after day, with her family's constant support. Their efforts are fortified and nurtured by the dedicated and highly trained and skilled multi-disciplinary staff that makes up the heart of the Neuro-rehab unit. I am thrilled to hear that she was able to walk across the stage and I am so proud of Abby and the rehab staff and all that they were able to accomplish, through their care, hard work, dedication and determination to a common goal."
Caroline Gayler volunteers in the public relations department at Cook Children’s Health Care System. She is a senior at TCU.