Life After Trauma

May 12th, 2017

A JPS trauma patient’s extraordinary reunion with the team that saved her life, captured on video that aired this week on the news, unleashed a torrent of viewer feedback that took even veteran news anchors by surprise.

CBS-DFW-11Viewers who saw the story on KTVT/Channel 11 had plenty to say about JPS Health Network and its flagship, John Peter Smith Hospital, launching a discussion on social media that grew to include people from across North Texas and even other parts of the country. A brief promo segment that aired in advance of the May 8 newscast proved among the station’s most popular ever, reaching more than 280,000 people on Facebook.

“Thank you for this report,” one viewer wrote. “My son in law was in a horrific accident and their trauma unit was incredible!”

“JPS trauma team saved my sons life,” wrote another. “I will never be able to put in words how blessed we are! People that have never been through this will never understand how wonderful those nurses and doctors are. Please do a piece on the ICU staff also.”

In case you missed it

KTVT/Channel 11 will re-broadcast "Return to Trauma" during Saturday night's 10 p.m. newscast. The story, which originally aired May 8, can also be viewed on the station’s website, or at


“My husband was run over by an 18 wheeler tractor trailer and was taken to JPS,” one woman recalled. “If it wasn’t for the trauma team and all his nurses he would not be here today. They were wonderful.

“People talk bad about JPS being a county hospital but there’s a reason trauma patients are sent there more than any other hospital,” wrote another woman, to whom news anchor Doug Dunbar replied: “Think we’ve all heard from time to time criticism of county hospitals pretty much everywhere. I think they’re slapped with a broad label that just doesn’t make sense. I can only speak for what I witnessed at JPS, but these people are incredibly good at what they do, as you attest.”

Dunbar said reaction to the story surprised him. “There are dozens and dozens of people weighing in, each with a personal experience at JPS, many sharing deeply personal stories of spouses, even children, who were critically injured. Facebook is the living room of the internet, and on this story, the entire neighborhood and town showed up to join in the conversation. And they all had wonderful things to say about the staff, and the treatment received.”

The May 8 story, “Life After Trauma,” followed a March 1 segment titled “Real Life in Trauma,” in which Dunbar took viewers behind the scenes at the Level I Trauma Center at JPS. Days later Dunbar was contacted by a patient whose identity had been concealed. She told Dunbar she wanted to return to JPS, say thank you to the people who saved her life, and share her story with the people of Tarrant County.

Courtney UtterWhat viewers did not know was that the patient, Courtney Utter of Fort Worth, had lost her arm that day after nearly bleeding to death. A vascular graft, which had been implanted after an ATV accident in January, had ruptured. She was rushed to surgery minutes after arriving at JPS, but her vasculature was unrepairable.

Dunbar captured Utter’s emotional reunion with Trauma Medical Director Dr. Raj Gandhi, and nurses Sarah Bell and Hunter Langley, all of whom said they were deeply moved by the experience.

Dunbar said that what he witnessed while reporting the story was “one of the most meaningful moments I’ve ever witnessed in my life.” Many of his viewers apparently felt likewise.

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