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Amy Henry 4On January 4, 2022, the Henry family– father, mother, daughter, and girlfriend– were driving to Washington, D.C. to do some sightseeing. With daughter Amy Henry, BSN RN, a nurse at UAB Medicine, driving the vehicle, they enjoyed the Virginia mountains covered in snow and the last few hours of a family road trip.

In addition to her position as a nurse with UAB Medicine, Amy Henry’s girlfriend Sara Bauer, BSN, RN is also a nurse at UAB.

In a flash

Seemingly out of nowhere, a car careened across the median between I-81 East and I-81 West, went airborne, and landed directly in the Henry family’s path. They hit head-on, going 75 mph.

After the impact, the vehicle made its way about 20 yards off the interstate and into the snow. Chaos ensued after the wreck, and Amy encouraged everyone who was able to get out of the vehicle, in case of a fire or other safety hazard. Everyone was alive, but they soon began to realize that each one of them had serious injuries.

“I am a nurse and have worked in UAB's operating room for five years, but the shock was keeping me from being able to recall any helpful knowledge for either of my parents,” said Amy Henry. “I realized that I was also sitting in the snow because I felt a lot of pain in my right hand.”

The paramedics arrived within five minutes and each family member was ushered to separate ambulances. Everyone was transported to a hospital in Winchester, TN, where they were seen in the emergency room.

The diagnoses

Amy Henry was diagnosed with a torn UCL in her right hand and had surgery in Virginia about two weeks after the wreck to correct it. Following that surgery, an MRI of her right foot revealed a torn bone, ligament, and muscle that required a boot for about six weeks. Finally, an MRI of her shoulder revealed a SLAP tear of her right shoulder.

Both of Amy Henry’s parents were taken to critical care units while she was sent to get x-rays of her right foot, right hand, and right shoulder– all of these sites were becoming very bruised and stiff, but thankfully, nothing was broken.

Amy Henry 3Amy Henry’s mother was diagnosed with six broken ribs, a broken sternum, and a broken hand. Her father was diagnosed with a shattered left ankle and leg, 12 broken ribs, a fractured sternum, internal bleeding, and a perforated bowel, so he had to undergo two surgeries over the course of two days.

“Once we realized the severity of the situation, my first instinct was to get my parents to UAB to continue their care. I reached out to my colleagues from the UAB OR, and they were able to coordinate getting my dad a life flight back to UAB, despite mechanical issues with the jet and a snowstorm” said Amy Henry.

Amy Henry credits the help of Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Associate Professor Michael Johnson, M.D., Department of Surgery Assistant Professor Virginia Pierce, M.D., and Assistant Nurse Manager Kayla Evans to get her parents transferred to UAB.

“A huge shout out to Drs. Michael Johnson and Virginia Pierce for accepting my parents and also pushing to get them transferred. I feel very fortunate and humbled to have such caring friends in such high places,” says Amy Henry. “Kayla Evans put in so much leg work to get the jet off the ground. She endured many texts and phone calls, and we’re so grateful.”

Amy Henry’s father ended up having an ex-fix by Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Assistant Professor Agarwal, Abhinav, M.D., followed by a tibial nail and an eight-inch plate to his left leg and ankle by Section Chief of Orthoapedic Trauma Jonathan Quade, M.D. Henry is grateful to her colleagues that were in her father’s surgeries.

Grateful hearts

Eventually, the rest of the family reconvened in Birmingham.

“I have never been more thankful to know that my family was in Birmingham receiving elite care from UAB. Once they were home, Kayla Evans and Andrea Tyson coordinated next-day doctor appointments for my mom with Drs. Amit Momaya and Rachel Aliotta,” said Amy Henry. “Dr. Momaya's athletic trainer, Sarah Kasprow, played a major role in coordinating appointments with Dr. Momaya for my mom, myself, and later my girlfriend.”

In those appointments, Amy Henry’s mother was diagnosed with three complete tears in her left elbow and a SLAP tear to her right shoulder and is currently doing physical therapy for all three injuries.

About two months after the wreck, Amy Henry’s girlfriend, who was seemingly unscathed, got a left knee MRI to err on the side of caution and was diagnosed with a meniscus tear. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Associate Professor and Section Chief of Sports Medicine Amit Momaya, M.D., performed repair surgery.

Amy Henry is grateful to each person who played a role in her family’s healing process.

Amy Henry 1“Long story short, we got in the worst car accident of our lives in a state where we had no close friends or connections, and we were unfamiliar with the hospital systems,” said Amy Henry. “Somehow, from 682 miles away, UAB still found a way to make us a priority and took over the care of my dad and later the care of my mother, Sara, and myself.”

Amy Henry’s father is also grateful for the care he and the family received.

“Praise the nurses that go above and beyond every day. UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center and my therapists were amazing to get me back walking– so many great people at UAB!”

Amy Henry notes that the quality of care was a key reason that the family is recovering and able to get back to doing what they love in life. For Amy and her girlfriend, that is nursing.

“All because of the fantastic people at UAB, we now feel confident that we have received and continue to receive the most advanced and research-based care possible, surrounded by friends and people who care for us. Words cannot express my gratitude for these amazing people that I consider family,” said Amy Henry.