Eight surgeries and counting: A long road to recovery

July 10th, 2018

After an ATV accident that crushed Jaylin Smith’s ankle and shattered bones in her left leg, the teenager is grateful to the team of JPS surgeons, nurses and physical therapists who saved her leg.

Jaylin has had eight surgeries and spent a total of 35 days at John Peter Smith Hospital – so far.

JPS Health Network

Jaylin Smith

It all started October 2016 when Jaylin’s ATV rolled over twice and landed on her leg, pinning her there for 45 minutes before help arrived. When a helicopter ambulance landed to pick her up, one of the crew members recommended they come to the Level I Trauma Center at JPS for treatment.

Shortly after arriving at the Emergency Department JPS, Jaylin was wheeled into an operating room for surgery by Bryan Ming, M.D., an orthopedic trauma surgery specialist, who worked to repair an open tibia and fibula fracture.

“As soon as I woke up I asked if I could go home and I asked if I could go home because I had a basketball game that day. I had never broken anything before so I didn’t know how serious it was,” Jaylin recalled.

Jaylin’s mother Leslie Walker was adamant that Dr. Ming work to save her daughter’s leg.

“Amputation was a very real thing,’ Walker said. “I said ‘we are not amputating her leg!’ He told me that there are some things we can do, but they are not easy. So we came up with a plan.”

Jaylin was in the hospital for 21 days before going home to begin an arduous recovery process. She lives in Eastland, about 90 minutes west of Fort Worth, where her family raises show goats.

The family has made countless round trips to Fort Worth for surgeries and for follow up treatment with Dr. Ming at the Acclaim Ben Hogan Bone & Joint Institute. Jaylin will likely have to have at least one additional surgery, her mother said.

Jaylin, now 17, completed her entire sophomore year by studying at home. Because she no longer can participate in basketball and track, she has become more involved with FFA, a leadership development organization for students of agricultural education. She has set a goal for herself: to walk without crutches while showing her goats at a competition this fall.

“I just had to realize that it could have been a lot worse. I’m lucky I have Dr. Ming, who was able to salvage my leg and make it so I can try to walk on it today,” she said.

Jaylin is looking forward to her senior year of high school in the fall. The accident has helped solidify Jaylin’s career plans. She now plans to become a registered nurse and eventually become an anesthesiologist, providing immediate pain relief to injured and ill patients just like her.

The reason is simple: “They help people feel better right away.”

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