Triumph over trauma
A motorcycle accident last spring may have taken Javier Ibarra’s leg, but it couldn’t take his zest for life
On May 16, 2012, Javier Ibarra’s morning commute to work took a turn for the worse. The husband, father, and aspiring architect threw on his helmet and armor vest, jumped on his motorcycle, and hit the road. Only moments later, a truck pulling a trailer didn’t see him and hit him.
Dallas Fire-Rescue took Ibarra to Methodist Dallas Medical Center.
“Quick response and teamwork were critical to saving this young man’s life,” says Danny Holland, DO, independently practicing orthopedic trauma surgeon on the medical staff at Methodist Dallas. “Emergency medical services got him here quickly. Then the emergency department and trauma team stabilized him and promptly moved him to the operating room, where all the surgeons were ready.”
Both Ibarra’s legs were badly injured, and one arm was broken. Although Ibarra lost his left leg, the surgeons were able to save his right leg, which required extensive care.
“To be honest, I can’t remember waking up that morning,” Ibarra, 22, says. “My first recollection was being in the hospital, learning that my leg had to be amputated. I was surprisingly calm when they told me.”
In the weeks to come, Ibarra had 13 more procedures, performed in collaboration by trauma, orthopedic, vascular, and plastic surgeons. After 11 days in intensive care, his hospital stay came to an end, but his journey to recovery had only begun.
Keeping it positive
“At least I am alive,” Ibarra thought when he woke after the accident. “If I have to learn to walk with a prosthesis, that’s what I’ll have to do.”
He carried this determination throughout his treatment, especially in occupational therapy with Monica Boseman, OTR. The two worked to help Ibarra regain independence. In time, he regained function in both his severely injured arm and leg.
“He pushed through the pain, never giving up,” Boseman says. Ibarra even surprised her one day when he drove to therapy on his own.
Keeping on and keeping up
Ibarra has come far in his healing journey, and the next phase is to take his first steps with a prosthetic leg. His son, just 4 months old at the time of the accident, recently started walking.
“Now it’s my turn to learn to walk again,” the young father says. “I have to keep up with Javier Jr.”