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Life Changed in a Split Second

Life Changed in a Split Second

As The Alfred Emergency and Trauma Centre prepares for a 50% increase in patients over the holiday season, we are asking for your support to help provide the best critical care possible

Zoe’s Story

Sunday in May 2018. Zoe and her partner Dylan help move furniture for an uncle. Dylan is driving his old tipper truck, the type with lap sash seatbelts. Zoe, just 23-years-old, is in the front passenger seat as they approach an intersection crossing a 110km/hr stretch of the Hume Highway near Tallarook. 

They don’t see the oncoming vehicle, which collides with their truck. It strikes Zoe’s front passenger door with such force that, despite wearing a seatbelt, she is thrown from the truck and lands five metres down the road.

When paramedics arrive Zoe is barely breathing and her injuries are so severe she is immediately placed in an induced coma.

Airlifted to The Alfred’s Emergency and Trauma Centre with a traumatic brain injury, haemorrhaging and skull fractures, Zoe’s condition is critical.

Tragically, Zoe’s story is all too common, but she is one of the lucky ones. As of the end of October 2019, deaths on Victorian roads were up by 33.6% this year, with deaths on rural roads up by a staggering 48%[1].    

With the holiday season approaching, The Alfred’s Director of Trauma Services, Professor Mark Fitzgerald, reminds us it is always an incredibly busy time of year for the state’s most advanced emergency and trauma department and encourages Victorians to take care over the holiday period.

“Our trauma and emergency services work to a maximum during this period. Admissions to the department increase by more than 50% compared to the rest of the year.

 Every patient we see has people who love them, and no-one ever wants to hear the phrase ‘airlifted to The Alfred in a critical condition’ about someone they love."

This is why we need your help today.  With the holiday season upon us we want to ensure we have the ability to fund equipment that might be required to meet an increase in demand and help save the lives of more people like Zoe.

Your donation will contribute to our Lifesaving Equipment Fund ensuring that we have the capacity to buy lifesaving equipment as soon as we need it.

[1] TAC - Lives Lost Year-to-date 20 October 2019

On arrival at The Alfred’s Emergency and Trauma Centre, specialist medical teams kept Zoe in an induced coma.        

Fighting for life, Zoe was immediately placed on complex life-support systems including a ventilator for her breathing and equipment that could directly monitor the pressure in her brain. A host of other specialist lifesaving equipment and monitors enabled the Intensive Care team to continually watch over Zoe’s vital signs, including cardiac and respiratory systems.       

“The moments directly after an incident like Zoe’s are crucial. Ensuring the patient has access to specialist lifesaving equipment and treatment could be the difference between life and death,” said Professor Fitzgerald.

Zoe was in hospital for three months after the accident, spending four weeks in The Alfred’s Intensive Care Unit and almost two months at Alfred Health’s Caulfield Hospital for rehabilitation.

 “After the accident, it was like learning to function all over again. Learning to talk, eat and walk.

I had daily goals and what really helped me through was a positive mindset.”

The Alfred’s trauma service is the largest and most active in the country and while government provides us with the essentials, it is donors like you that further ensure we are a world standard trauma service, offering people like Zoe the most extraordinary care.

Whilst neither speeding nor mobile phone distractions were factors in Zoe’s accident she wants people to really consider the potential consequences of these things especially whilst driving these summer holidays.

“Rushing for an appointment or getting distracted by your phone while driving just isn’t worth it. You could be dealing with the consequences for a long time.”

Donate to The Alfred’s Lifesaving Equipment Fund today.

No one knows when an accident might happen to them or someone they love. The best possible critical care could be the difference between life and death.

Your donation to the Fund will be used to purchase critical equipment as soon as we need it, meaning our medical and nursing staff have the lifesaving equipment they need to treat patients sooner.

Zoe’s rehabilitation so far has been remarkable but she is acutely aware of the impact her accident has had on others and how important they have been in recovery.

Zoe’s Disability Support Officer Yolanda explains that Zoe’s recovery so far has been a huge team effort.

“The impact of accidents like Zoe’s are far reaching through family, friends and community. They all feel it and they all play a role in the recovery.

“Zoe is remarkable, her recovery really stands out as one of the strongest I’ve seen considering where she has come from. We’ve worked hard on improving a range of things: memory, coordination, fitness and reducing fatigue levels. She’s done so well.”

For Zoe, and her family, life is very different now to what it once was.

“One of the biggest challenges has been managing the impact on my family and relationships. We have all had to adapt to the new normal and that keeps changing. It’s difficult.”

Zoe and her mum recently visited the Intensive Care Unit at The Alfred.

“I wanted to meet some of the amazing staff that treated me, and piece together what happened.

“I’m so grateful to the doctors and nurses who saved me - and for all those incredibly complex machines that kept me going.”

More than 65,000 people are treated in The Alfred’s Emergency and Trauma Centre every year, an average of 180 every day.  More than 1500 of these are severe traumas and, like Zoe, many are road trauma victims.   

Zoe has challenges ahead but she’ll keep pushing. She is already back working two days a week, with the aim of working full-time again within the next year.

The story could have ended very differently for Zoe but happily her and partner Dylan are now engaged to be married and, after all they’ve been through, a fairy-tale ending is well-deserved.

With a 50% increase in trauma and emergency patients over the summer holidays, your support could be the difference between life and death.

Please donate to the Lifesaving Equipment Fund today.