Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232


(615) 936-1000

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Meet Ella
 

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Ella Brown and her family feel like they have guardian angels at Vanderbilt. Ella, who is now 7, was so severely injured on April 18, 2009, that even nurses and doctors who treated her at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital are amazed she recovered so well, her mother says.

Ella was in the parking lot with her father and some friends outside a mud-bogging (mud racing) event in Fayetteville, Tenn., when one of the trucks in the show lost control. It left the mud course and careened into the lot where Ella was. The truck hit one of two cars Ella was standing between, crushing her in the middle.
“I got the call around 8:30 p.m. At first they thought just her arm was hurt, but by the time I got there they had called for LifeFlight,” said her mother, Sara Brown. They knew her lungs were collapsing and they were getting ready to fly her to Vanderbilt. One of the flight nurses, Deanna, told me I needed to say something to Ella before they took off because she wasn’t sure she would survive the flight,” she said.
When the Browns arrived at the Children’s Hospital, Ella was already in surgery. The bottoms of both lungs had blown out from the impact. Harold Lovvorn III, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatric Surgery, said he remembers Ella well.
“I recall the anesthesiologists did an excellent job keeping her alive as Dr. Tom Rauth, (now Chief Pediatric Surgery Resident at Children’s Hospital), assisted me in the surgery. She was bleeding from a ruptured spleen, and her lungs were so badly damaged we had to leave her abdomen open for five days until her breathing improved,” said Lovvorn.
Surgeons were able to get her lungs to fill with air, but by then, Ella had suffered a serious brain injury from lack of oxygen.
“Even Dr. Lovvorn told me after the surgery he went back to his office and prayed because he had done everything possible medically,” Sara recalls.
For the next two weeks Ella was in and out of consciousness and would not respond to those around her. Brown says doctors and nurses from the Emergency Department and LifeFlight came to visit frequently to check up on Ella. They were amazed that she continued to breathe, and hoped they would see her recover. 
But after three weeks, Ella was still not speaking.  She was physically well enough to be discharged to go to a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta. She spoke her first words since the accident along the way in the ambulance.
“It was May 5th. She had been given some Valium for the trip down and she said, ‘This is awesome.’ I couldn’t believe it. I was crying for the rest of the trip. The driver thought I was crazy,” Brown said.
After that, there was no stopping Ella. By August she was ready to go back to school. Today, the rising third grader is as bright as ever. The “diva” of the family and the eldest of three girls, Ella loves dancing and music-- especially Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. She still has vision impairment, but loves stories, and her classmates are always willing to read to her. 
The family credits Ella’s recovery to the determination of the doctors and nurses at Vanderbilt -- everyone from the LifeFlight crew and Emergency Department personnel, to her doctors and nurses in the Pediatric Critical Care Unit.
“I often wonder if it would have been different if she had been taken somewhere else that day,” Sara says. “The effort they made here at Vanderbilt was incredible. Everyone gave such wonderful care, and were so supportive. We feel so grateful.”

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