Six years have past since a devastating crash nearly took the life of Danika Carriere. Even though so much has happened since that Thanksgiving Day in 2011 memories of that night are still vivid for Danika’s mother.
“She was in critical condition and they knew right away that it was a severe traumatic brain injury.”
Barbie Nault can still recall the doctor’s haunting words at Health Sciences Centre saying Danika was in really bad shape and they didn’t know if she would make it.
“He was so torn up, he was in tears himself. I will never forget that,” Barbie said.
Danika was sitting in the back seat of a truck when the vehicle drove into a ditch. Her head flung forward striking the back of the front passenger seat, then crashed back. Her spine, spleen and lung were also injured.
The energetic 12-year-old was undergoing emergency brain surgery, fiercely clinging to life.
“Four days after the surgery was when she actually moved,” Barbie said.
“I can tell you that every person in that ICU was jumping for joy. We were screaming, we were hugging.”
Danika pulled through, but another wave of challenges still lay ahead.
“I didn’t really know who my parents were. I had to learn how to move again, how to walk, how to talk,” Danika said.
She spent 60 days in hospital facing a series of difficult hurdles with a team of doctors, nurses and therapists.
A huge collection of photographs document the journey. Some showcasing massive accomplishments – like graduating from High School this past June.
“To see her walk down the aisle and get her diploma as a family it was an incredible event. It was one we’ll cherish forever,” Danika’s father Alain Nault said.
Her school worked together with Danika and her family to ensure she could complete grade 12 with her peers. Even though it was challenging and physically exhausting for Danika, she persevered.
“She’s had to battle a lot since her accident, just to be able to physically go to school. Now getting her here we can hold up our end,” said Joel Mangin, vice principal of Ecole Gabrielle-Roy.
The school continues to be a place Danika is able to learn and grow. She’s working with the pre-school children twice a week gaining skills and experience.
“I read them books, we draw we paint. It’s fun, they’re so young, they’re adorable.” Danika said.
Battling fatigue and the challenges of a brain injury are everyday realities for Danika, but she continues to push herself.
“I have an injury so it’s not going to be the same anymore and I accept that and I know that.”
“There will always be challenges, but Danika has come so far in terms of being aware of who she is and she has hopes and dreams like anyone else,” Alain said.
Dreams her mother believes are alive thanks to the medical care her daughter received at Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg.
“The care and compassion and I’m talking right from the people who served meals who cleaned rooms to the experts who are trained to save lives, and we are forever grateful,” Barbie said.