Great Healthcare and Family's Faith Help Accident Victim Heal
Photo/text by Renee Burrell
Joel Lydecker and his parents honored David McKalip, M.D., brain and spine neurosurgeon with a certificate of compassion in his office at Bayfront Medical Center in St Petersburg last month. Dr. McKalip performed lifesaving surgery on Lydecker (2nd from left) after he was in a head on collision in 2004
In July 2004, the energy from a near fatal traffic accident-- with a 120 mph combined speed --caused a white sheering brain injury in fireman Joel Lydecker, 30, of Nokomis. Following the head on collision, Lydecker was in a coma for 80 days, hospitalized for numerous months thereafter, and couldn't walk or talk.
He and his family accredit their faith in God for his recovery along with the outstanding health care he received from emergency medical technicians and healthcare staff at Bayfront Medical Center, especially the care given within the first crucial "golden" hour after the accident.
Lydecker was airlifted to Bayfront Medical Center in St Petersburg. Along with his parents, Ed, a minister on the pastoral staff of Sarasota Baptist Church and Marie, the church's Director of Resident Resources, 30 friends and family gathered to pray for his life.
Ed Lydecker described some of his son's injuries, "He coded twice. The engine pushed into him…the air bag deployed and Joel ended up in the back seat of his car. The seat belt lacerated his spleen…part of his fibula was blown out…"
At one point while Lydecker was comatose, Doctors predicted that he would most probably remain in a vegetative state and advised his parents to find a nursing home.
"And we thanked them for their opinion," said Marie.
The Lydeckers didn't give up and expected their son to recover. They pushed for rehabilitation and stepped down from their positions at Sarasota Baptist Church to care for their son. After seven months of rehab and hospital bills totaling $649,000, their life's savings were wiped out.
"We prayed. We trusted God. I think you hope for something and expect something to happen," said Ed.
The Lydeckers worked with St Petersburg Psychiatrist Kari Pederson M.D., who believed that Joel was 'still in there', and placed him in a rehabilitation facility rather than a nursing home.
Today at age 30, Lydecker looks great and is back at work as a firefighter. In his spare time he works on cars and is an archer who has split an arrow with an arrow. He also has been making the rounds thanking those who helped him five years ago when his future looked bleak.
The Lydeckers have been thanking the emergency medical technicians, surgeons, nurses and therapists that touched their lives five years ago. "We had incredible support," remembers Ed. "The new intensive care unit at Bayfront is great. I've been in about 2,000 hospital rooms, so I know what I'm talking about."
On Thursday August 27, Joel and his family went to visit neurosurgeon Dr. David McKalip who was Lydecker's primary surgeon following the accident.
Ed said Dr. McKalip told them after surgery, "We don't know if he'll live one day or a week, but hopefully someday he'll walk into my office."
Five years later that day had come.
Said McKalip, "I'm so glad to see him. The last time I saw him he was in a hospital bed."
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