Queen Creek girl, 7, overcomes brain trauma after ATV accident

Banner Desert, Cardon Children’s helps youngster’s amazing recovery

Dr. Roger Hudgins, pediatric neurosurgeon for Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, shares a smile with Rilynn Mellen, 7, who is celebrating a recovery from brain trauma following an ATV accident. (Special to the Independent/Banner Health)

The family of 7-year-old Rilynn Mellen of Queen Creek is celebrating this holiday season with one monumental wish recently granted.

After an ATV accident stopped the ginger-haired girl’s breathing and resulted in brain trauma and intensive care treatment, she’s back on her feet again.

The child was riding as a passenger in a side-by-side ATV in November during a family trip to a cabin in Payson, when it appears she unbuckled her seatbelt before the driver stopped the vehicle to unlock a gate.

She fell out when it braked, suffering an open skull fracture that stopped her breathing and pulse.

The cabin’s remote location proved to be problematic for emergency medical team workers to get to the family.

Rilynn’s mother, Kassondra, luckily knows CPR and performed the proper steps as her dad, Kevin, rushed to the nearest fire station.

Efforts to revive Rilynn on the way to the station were successful, as she began to breathe on her own and had a pulse on arrival.

An emergency medical team took over, and the girl was eventually airlifted to Banner Desert Medical Center/Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa.

The medical team rushed into action at the Level I trauma center, which is designed to provide the highest level of trauma care. In cases like these, minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

A CT scan showed Rilynn’s skull fracture, as well as a small area of bleeding and bruising within her brain that didn’t require an operation.  She was sedated and closely monitored for several days.

Rilynn’s family knew there was a possibility she might have long-term mental and physical health issues, but they held out hope.

In the first few days after awakening from sedation, she began sitting up in a chair and taking steps. By the third day, Rilynn was able to walk down a hallway in her medical unit without assistance at Cardon Children’s Medical Center, located on the Banner Desert campus.

One week later, Rilynn reached another major recovery milestone: she was able to leave the hospital on her own two feet.

“Cardon Children’s and Banner Desert gave excellent care to our daughter during her stay and at all follow-up visits after her injury,” said Kassondra. “CPR is a powerful thing and can save lives if initiated early on. I believe everyone (including teenagers) should be trained, as you never know the moment you may need to perform it to save a life.”

Rilynn shows no signs of any mental deficit from the incident, but has concussion symptoms.

She has already returned to doing many of her normal daily activities, her mother said. She’ll continue visiting several specialists, including a neurosurgeon and neuropsychologist, to monitor her recovery.

Banner Desert Medical Center is a nonprofit hospital in Mesa, providing a range of inpatient and outpatient services, including emergency services, Level I trauma care, cancer care, heart care, orthopedics, women and infant services, rehabilitation, neurological care and more.

The medical center is one of the most comprehensive hospitals in Arizona and serves as a regional referral center in the East Valley of metropolitan Phoenix.

The medical campus is also home to Cardon Children’s Medical Center.

Both facilities are owned and operated by Banner Health, a provider of health care services in Arizona.

For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com/Desert.

Editor’s note: Corey Schubert is the public relations senior specialist for Banner Health.

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