Gymnast’s Miracle Recovery from Spinal Cord Injury
Jan 15, 2013
When Oklahoma teen Deborah Ede woke up on March 8, she was just three months shy of her 16th birthday and a week away from the 2012 Trampoline and Tumbling Winter Classic in St. Petersburg, Florida. Little did she know that life as she knew it was about to tumble down around her. With one wrong move, the gymnast suffered a devastating spinal cord injury and became a quadriplegic.
The maneuver she was practicing is what is known as a “half out pike” in the world of gymnastics. To the rest of us, it’s a tucked, double-somersault with a 180-degree flip at the end. Unfortunately, it ended with what Ede calls “The Crash,” which left her with a broken neck–the C5 and C6 vertebrae both fractured–and her spinal cord shut down. Emergency surgery fused the damaged vertebrae, and her medical file labeled her as a “complete quadriplegic.”
As Ede lay in the post-op recovery room at Saint Francis Hospital, her friends began a Facebook page titled “Pray for Deborah” that collected thousands of well-wishing posts and prayer chains in 30 different countries. A huge “Pray for Deborah” banner went up at the Union Intermediate High School in Broken Arrow, OK, signed by hundreds of her classmates. Ede and her family believe the wishes and prayers worked a genuine miracle.
“The night of the crash, I had already started praying. As soon as I woke up and realized what happened on the trampoline, I started praying immediately,” she said. “There were nights at Saint Francis where I would definitely doubt. Like, ‘Why would God let something like this happen?’ But in the end, I would always turn to Him.”
Just 162 days after “The Crash,” Ede could already walk to the door when a guest arrived, go upstairs to let her parents know, and come back down the stairs again with just one hand on the rail to guide her. She could curl up on the sofa, cross her legs, and look like just about any teenager in her own environment.
The miracle didn’t happen overnight, but day-by-day Ede showed improvement. Her doctors say that she has outpaced almost every other spinal cord injury of her kind that they have witnessed. In the realm of spinal cord injuries, her recovery moved at the speed of light.
Even her Twitter tweets and pictures during her recovery show her progress at incredible leaps and bounds.
Ede was sad to miss a Spring Break mission trip to Jamaica because of her injuries, but her life has gone back to being fairly normal, despite physical therapy and a host of medications she has to take each day. She was able to stay in the same grade as her peers, and she has begun delivering motivational speeches to young tumblers and gymnasts about working hard and overcoming diversity.
She’s considering a career as a neurosurgeon or physical therapist. We are pretty sure Ede has proven she can accomplish whatever she sets her mind to.
“I told my nurse like the first four days I was there in ICU that I was gonna come back and walk in,” she said. “And I did.”