6-Year-Old NJ Girl's Recovery Journey After Near-Fatal Accident   

6-Year-Old NJ Girl's Recovery Journey After Near-Fatal Accident

6-year-old Gitty Rubin standing smiling while at a Disney park.

October 03, 2023

As the sun was setting on a typical Monday evening in mid-January 2022, little Gitty Rubin, then just 6 years old, set out on a joyful walk home with her 13-year-old sister after a delightful trip to a neighborhood café in Lakewood, New Jersey. Tragically, the carefree afternoon took a devastating turn when Gitty was struck by a car while crossing the road, the force of which propelled her 75 feet, leaving her unconscious with life-threatening injuries. However, amidst the darkness, one fateful decision would become the beacon of hope that ultimately saved her life.

Within a minute of the accident, Hatzolah, the local EMS team, including Gitty's own uncle, a volunteer paramedic, arrived at the scene. Overwhelmed by the realization that it was his niece in dire need of help, her uncle bravely handed the reins over to his capable colleagues. With Gitty's father out of town, her uncle called her mother to share the heart-wrenching news.

A Decision for Emergency Care

Gitty's injuries were severe, and time was of the essence. The dedicated paramedic team acted swiftly, transporting her to Jersey Shore University Medical Center, a Level I Trauma Center that provides the highest level of trauma care to critically ill or injured patients. In addition, Jersey Shore offers the only Level II Pediatric Trauma Center in the region, which would prove to be a pivotal factor in Gitty's recovery.

"The decision to bring Gitty to a Level II Pediatric Trauma Center saved her life. She had immediate access to an operating room, all the pediatric subspecialists she needed to care for her life-threatening condition and an experienced pediatric trauma team," says Victoriya Staab, M.D., pediatric trauma medical director and one of the pediatric general surgeons who tirelessly cared for Gitty. "Time is of the essence when it comes to critically injured children. The advantage of having a patient cared for in a pediatric trauma center is that all the subspecialists that are needed are under one roof, so there's no delay in care."

Upon her arrival at Jersey Shore, the pediatric trauma team initiated resuscitation in the trauma bay led by trauma surgeon Constantine Bulauitan, M.D. Gitty was swiftly intubated to aid her breathing and was given life-saving medications. Soon after, she was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit.

Gitty's injuries were extensive and included broken bones around her eye and nose, injuries to her liver and lungs, a broken leg and, the most life-threatening injury, a broken skull with bleeding and swelling in her brain. It was during this critical time that Lawrence Daniels, M.D., the division chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, performed a craniotomy to reduce pressure and stop the bleeding.

Displaying great care and sensitivity, Dr. Daniels braided her hair before the surgery to minimize hair loss and preserve her identity. Gitty’s father, Isaac, says, "Dr. Daniels was our special angel.”

The initial days were fraught with uncertainty, and Isaac vividly recalls the team's tireless efforts to stabilize Gitty’s condition. Pediatric intensive care physician Matthew Maccarick, M.D., and his team worked all night with the trauma and neurosurgery team to provide life-saving medications and support.

One nurse, Kevin Fogarty, RN, CPN, stood out among the compassionate care team. The Rubin family was so touched by his exceptional care that they nominated him for a DAISY Award, a prestigious recognition honoring nursing excellence.

Kevin's exceptional presence during the initial 24 hours was akin to that of an angel, skillfully coordinating and adjusting medications to save Gitty's life while providing comfort and resilience to her family.

Back to Enjoying Everyday Activities

In the days that followed, Gitty received attentive care from a multitude of pediatric specialists and providers, including pediatric intensive care, pediatric surgery, pediatric neurosurgery, pediatric orthopedics, ophthalmology, plastic surgery, infectious disease and pediatric rehabilitation medicine.

After many months of diligent procedures, inpatient, outpatient rehabilitation and the prayers of family, friends and community, Gitty, now a spirited 8-year-old, has made a remarkable recovery. Her parents proudly share that she is once again her lively "spitfire" and vibrant self, enjoying everyday activities such as riding her bike and swimming, just like any other 8-year-old child.

Gitty's journey to recovery is a testament to the power of expert medical care, unwavering support and the warmth of compassionate hearts. It is a story of resilience, strength and the indomitable human spirit, reminding us all of the boundless potential within each precious life.

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The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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