• CELEBRATING BUFFALO TOGETHER
    #totallybuffalo

    CELEBRATING BUFFALO TOGETHER
    #TOTALLY BUFFALO

 

We’ve made a decision. A very big one.

We’ve made a decision. A very big one.

When I say we – I really mean my daughter, Maria.

She’s 20 – but she’s still my baby. She has her own apartment – but she’s still my baby. She has a great job and is navigating life in a lovely way – but, she’s still my baby.

You get it.

You may or may not know that Maria was involved in a terrible accident 7 years ago. It was hell.

She was accidentally shot by a little boy playing with what he thought was an unloaded gun.

It wasn’t unloaded.

There was one bullet in the chamber. That’s all it takes. One.

The bullet went into Maria’s thigh. It shattered her femur and severed her femoral artery. She nearly bled to death right then and there. My Alexa tied a sweatshirt around her sister’s leg and saved her life.

See. Hell.

Maria spent one month at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. And then four months at Boston Children’s Hospital. Followed by 8 weeks of outpatient rehab also in Boston.

She spent months in physical, occupational and emotional therapies. She still struggles with pain now and then. Her legs are filled with scars that she says give her character. I couldn’t agree more.

It was a long process. A long time wondering if things would ever be okay.

God was on our side.

I am at a point where I can talk about it – and so is Maria. We didn’t bury it, but we pushed it down somewhat. Tried to focus on other things.

The truth is – we were lucky. Maria was lucky.

That sounds ridiculous – but it’s not.

It’s true. She was lucky that the most amazing surgeon was on-call the night of her accident. She had the most amazing nurses, therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and many others. All on her side. All rooting for sweet Maria.

When I first arrived at the hospital the night of the accident and saw Maria – she was as white as a sheet. She’d lost so much blood. She was very much drugged up on painkillers. A bag of blood hanging – entering her body. An enormous staff working on her, including a doctor who said I needed to sign a form that allowed them to amputate her leg. I remember telling him that we could live without her leg, but not without her. I begged him to save her life. He made no promises.

Surgery was about 8 hours long. Dr. Jason Kim saved her life. He saved my Maria. He’s our hero.

Dr. Jonathan Gross then saved her leg. I literally LOVE this man. He is our hero, too.

It was a long haul. We were surrounded by family. And friends. We felt very loved.

And very scared.

Maria had just about every set back and complication you can imagine. Her pain worsened.  I remember being in a room with a dozen people – my husband, Scott and I with all this medical staff – We were told there was nothing more they could do. That this was how Maria’s life would be. She would have chronic pain, be on painkillers, and have limitations for the rest of her life.

I refused to accept that.

Hell no.

I searched and found a specialty clinic in Boston – that had a waiting list of 18 months – I begged. I told them how this sweet girl had been shot. The trauma. The pain. The helplessness I felt. I begged them like I’ve never begged for anything in my life. I prayed. I went to the hospital chapel and promised anything and everything to God, Jesus, Mary, all the Angels and Saints – who ever would listen. My sister, Paula – who flew to Rochester from Florida – who happens to be very persuasive – also called the clinic. In the end, Maria got in.

Maria and I went by ambulance from Rochester to Boston – which is a story in itself.

The doctor there – Nevil Sethna gave my daughter back her life. Helped her figure out how to walk. How to control her pain. He’s our hero.

So you see, there were an awful lot of heroes. Of course, Maria being the biggest one of all. And Alexa – who saved her sister.

But there are three other heroes that we’ve often thought about. Three unknown people who we have had countless conversations about. Three people who also helped to save Maria’s life.  There is absolutely no doubt – without these three – Maria would not be here today.

They are the Mercy Flight Crew that flew her to Strong Memorial Hospital. They stopped the bleeding. Kept her calm. Treated her sweetly. She remembers it. I don’t know how, but she does. In fact, the first time I heard what had happened – that my daughter was shot – they were loading her onto the chopper. She called to tell me what happened. She called to tell me that she was going to be okay. She called to tell me to take my time driving to the hospital. As long as I live – I will never forget that phone call. I realized then and there that as a mother, I must have done something right. For Maria to worry about me? For Alexa to handle things the way she did?  I was and still am in awe of my girls.

She was in good hands with that crew. She remembers them telling her that everything was going to be okay.

They were right.

So you see, they are the heroes that we haven’t been able to thank.

Until now.

We will be meeting the crew very soon. The folks at Mercy flight have figured out who was working that day, who cared for Maria. And Maria is going to have the opportunity to thank them in person.

I can’t believe it! Maria is going to meet them. And I’ll be right by her side. I know that saying a mere thank you for saving my daughter’s life seems so insignificant, but I have to.

How do you truly thank someone for such a gift? How do you truly show how much their service, skills, and kindness are appreciated by our family?

We will find out soon. Very soon. Maria is ready. The crew is ready. And we have a date!  We will meet the crew on July 27th at 7 pm. Stay tuned as we share our story!!!

Mary Friona

Mary Friona

Following my heart with my husband and four daughters. An Emmy Award winning journalist lucky enough to work in television & radio for 20 years - seeing wonderful places, meeting great people and telling their stories.

Comments (21)

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    Michael Powers

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    Incredible story, cheers to your great daughters. Those are unimaginable circumstances and the triumph of the happy ending is a testament to their great character.

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    Pat Brown

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    Mary, WOW!! What a beautiful story about love, and life, and real life heroes. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It brought tears to my eyes. God bless you and your family. Have a joyous reunion.

    Reply

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    Debi Civisca

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    I have followed Maria’s story. What a strong young lady. just like her mother. I am so happy her story is about to come full circle. Look forward to hearing all about that day when it does arrive. Please know that at that time in her life we all prayed hard. I’m so happy all worked out.

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    Sharon Barger

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    I follow your blog and love reading about your beautiful family. This story brought me to tears, stiring up emotions I had 8 yrs ago. My 7 yr granddaughter nearly drowned in a pool accident. We lived in CA at the time, and took the first flight back to Buffalo, not knowing if she was still with us until we landed. She eas touch and go for a week, but is an amaxibg 15 yr old now. Our family also fells veey lucky, and we have thanked her heros, profusely. God blesses us.

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    Betty Leistner

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    This is a perfect example of love and faith. The power of love is an amazing thing. You have an awesome daughter that was raised by an awesome mom.

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    Valerie

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    That is so awesome! Mary you have done your job as her Mom and raised a very strong young lady. She wouldn’t have been able to do that without a supportive, strong mom and family! You should be very proud!
    Thank God for all of those heroes out there who save lives everyday!!

    Reply

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    Laura Seil Ruszczyk

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    Absolutely beautiful, courageous. Thank you for sharing. God bless you all.

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    Cherie Messore

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    Beautiful story!

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    Cheryl Hagen

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    Amazing story with so many life lessons and a happy ending… Write a book, make a movie… Spread the word. The world needs more people like these heros… and your Maria. God Bless! ❤️?????

    Reply

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    joey monn

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    mary ,,,we have been right with you ,everyday after that prayers and more prayers we may be miles apart but our love and prayers are always with you guys love you ……..

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    Margaret

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    Omg I’m in tears. Such a tragic but, heartwarming story. God bless everyone that saved Maria’s life. Your daughters will have a bond with each other that none else will ever have. You have a beautiful family. Thank you for sharing.

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    John R. Witt

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    Mary, what a wonderful story with a more than wonderful ending. God was obviously watching down on all that were chosen to be the ones in place to aid you beautiful daughter in that time and also gave her the strength and courage to beat the odds against her. So happy for the outcome for your entire family! Especially Maria!!

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    Marilynn La Cerais

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    Mary,

    You are one faith-filled loving mom. I remember very well when Maria’s accident happened. It was all over the news. I remember praying for her. As a mom I know it would not only break my heart, but I world be completely devastated if anything ever happened to my daughter. God is always with you and your family. His angels are watching over all of you. My prayer for Maria, and all of your family, is to enjoy life to the fullest. From your posts on Facebook I believe you are doing just that. God bless and keep all of you!

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    Debb

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    Mary, thank you for sharing this wonderful and amazing story. Your daughters are amazing…just like their Mama. I can’t imagine the pain you all went through. It’s great to hear that Maria is doing well. It’s clear she gets her strength and determination from you. God bless all Maria’s “heroes”. Love, faith, and prayers work wonders, too. May God bless you all. Please be sure to write a follow-up when you meet all those heroes … and take lots of pictures!!

    Reply

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    Terri McDonald-Gale

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    I never knew the whole story of what happened to your daughter. I knew there was some sort of accident, but had no idea of the seriousness! Thank God it turned out the way it did. Incredible!!!!

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    Lisa Dorato

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    I can’t Believe it has been 7 years! Never Forget receiving the news from your sister. I just remember praying so deeply, as a mother the thought of something so scary threatening the life of your child is every Mothers worst nightmare!!! I am so happy that all the prayers were answered, and all the right heros were set
    In place!

    Reply

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    Weis Family

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    Mary, having known you and your family for so many years now, I have to say this story just confirms what we all know. You and the girls have always been wonderful to everyone you come in contact with. We will always hold a special place in our hearts for you’re very special family

    Reply

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    Bob Krahn

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    For those that don’t believe there is a higher power, you proved them wrong. The world needs more people like you.

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    Patricia

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    I remember those days, weeks and months. You were full of grace and ever so thankful for God’s mercy. Thanks for sharing, tears are flowing from what was and now is. Maria is a miracle.

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    Kris Stephens

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    I am one of those who did not know about this chapter of your life. We know each other through Make-A-Wish, as in my son is a Wish child (now adult). But we almost lost our younger son >10 yrs ago due to post op sepsis misdiagnosed by our (then) PMD. By the time we got him to the ED we were told, very grimly, that he had a 50/50 chance of living through it. Thanks to amazing ED & ICU staff, many prayers, much begging, & finally a visit from canine therapy, he suddenly made a miraculous turn around, with no lasting effects (which the staff had trouble believing). I can relate to the pain & struggles. We are definitely tested, and are very blessed to be here to share a happy ending.

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    Sherry Collins

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    Those amazing people were exactly where God had intended them to be! I am so happy to hear that your daughter and the rest of your family are healing physically, emotionally and spiritually …again, as God intended! Thank you for sharing your very personal story…I can’t wait to hear the next chapter!❤️?

    Reply

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