On May 18, 1995, 7-year-old John Hoover was crossing the street in New Waverly, TX, to play with a friend who lived nearby. At that same time, a car traveling 60 miles per hour came around a blind curve and struck the child.
Hoover was flown by Memorial Hermann Life Flight® to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. His wounds consisted of a fractured skull, lacerated liver and a traumatic brain injury. Hoover’s parents didn’t know if he would survive the accident, and were unclear of what state Hoover would be in if he woke up from his comatose state. Luckily, the quick work of Life Flight personnel and physicians at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital allowed Hoover to make a smooth recovery. Within days he was talking again, and within a few weeks he was walking.
“Traumatic brain injury can significantly impact a child that young,” said Dr. Kevin Lally, Surgeon-in-Chief at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pediatric Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “The effects can range from mild symptoms to more severe long-lasting effects.”
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) typically results from a significant or violent blow to the head or body. Mild TBI can affect the brain cells temporarily while more serious TBI can cause physical damage to the brain that result in long-term complications or even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. TBIs contribute to about 30 percent of all injury deaths and 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI every day. Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).
Shortly after graduating from New Waverly High School in 2006, Hoover moved to Florida. Moving away from the town that he loved (with a population of just over 1,000) was difficult, but he was ready for change.
“I had this dream of attending the University of Miami,” Hoover said. “But I faced a lot of adversity while growing up. I was involved with multiple head injury programs, and I suffered from vision problems that I had dealt with ever since the accident when I was 7 years old. I sometimes thought that the dream of going to the University of Miami was too far-fetched. No one in my family had ever been to college, so even if I went, I didn’t have anyone to really show me the way.”
Even at 30 years old, Hoover never gave up on his dream. In May of 2018, Hoover received a letter that would change his life: he was accepted to the University of Miami School of Law on a full-ride scholarship. After sharing this news with his family, Hoover did something unexpected and reached out to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.
In a note he sent to the hospital, Hoover shared the recent news of fulfilling a lifelong dream after growing up in the hospital’s care. In a social media post, Hoover said, “I am beyond blessed for the life I have now. I appreciate all of the prayers and support and I want to give special thanks to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Memorial Hermann Life Flight for the phenomenal job they do. I will never forget May 18, 1995, and I will not squander this second chance on life. “
“It means a lot that patients will reach out to us, even 23 years after an incident,” Dr. Lally said. “We have been treating pediatric and adult traumatic brain injuries for decades and will continue doing so for years to come. Our research and technology have made remarkable progress in the treatment and rehabilitation of patients who have suffered a brain injury.”
For more information on Memorial Hermann and brain injuries, click here.