In April of 2012, Meg Throckmorton, 16 years old, suffered a C1-C2 spinal cord injury (SCI) while preparing for an upcoming dance competition. She failed to complete a round-off back tuck and came down on the back of her neck. Meg was immediately paralyzed and unable to breathe on her own. She was airlifted to West Virginia University Hospital Trauma Center with life-threatening injuries. She suffered a break at her C-2 vertebrae and fractured her C-1. A MRI revealed that Meg had severely damaged her spinal cord. Within 24 hours, doctors repaired her broken vertebrae, and with the help of the University of Miami’s Miami Project, WVU doctors treated Meg with innovative SCI medical treatments. The doctors gave her parents minimal hope that the treatments would be successful. They were told to prepare for the fact that Meg would be a high level cervical quadriplegic complete. This meant that she would never move a muscle below the base of her skull, and that she would be dependent on a ventilator to breathe for the rest of her life.
As the days went by, Meg’s condition did not change. She was in intensive care in critical but stable condition. Eight day post accident, Meg had three surgeries: the installation of a feeding tube, a trachea tube, and the placement of a diaphragmatic pacer (DPS). The DPS is a medical device that is implanted in a ventilator-dependent patient to give the ability to breathe without a ventilator for short periods of time. All three surgeries were performed to improve the quality of life for a high level complete quadriplegic.
Twelve days after her accident, Meg was transferred to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Shepherd specializes in the treatment and rehabilitation of SCI patients. Shepherd’s preliminary plan was to train Meg’s parents how to care for a high level quadriplegic. On day 2 at Shepherd, Meg started to have small controlled movements and she never looked back. Over the next few months, she continued to gain movement and strength. By June, she began taking her first steps assisted by physical therapists or overhead suspension lifts. By late July, she no longer needed the ventilator or DPS to breathe. She became the second patient ever to have her DPS wires cut. Approximately one year after her accident, Meg no longer needed her wheelchair. To this day, Meg continues to improve.
WVU Trauma Center and Hospital saved Meg’s life and the Miami Project’s pioneering medical treatments gave her the spark that she needed to begin neuron recovery. The Shepherd Center discovered her first movements and inspired her to an amazing physical recovery. The chain of events that led to Meg’s recovery inspired the establishment of “Mission for Miracles”. Mission for Miracles is a 501c3 non-profit organization that helps with spinal cord injury prevention and awareness, and supports the medical facilities that made Meg’s recovery possible.