Caitlin V. Donnelly graduated from Duke University in May of 2006 with a degree in political science, a minor in art history, and a certificate in film and video studies—all of which she accomplished in three years. Shortly after graduating, Caitlin moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. After receiving several job offers, Caitlin joined a small production company and began her post-college life.
Caitlin returned to Duke on September 28th for Homecoming weekend to reconnect with old friends and the school she loved. That evening, a tragic and inexplicable accident interrupted a promising young life. Caitlin was struck by a driver in a dark green sedan who did not stop, call for help, or even slow down as it sent her flying across the roadway, administering massive head, leg, and spinal injuries to her tiny 100-pound frame. A minute before, she had been standing outside a friend's apartment, waiting for a cab, headed out to celebrate her first night back at Duke as an alumna. Now she was lying in the street, teetering on the edge of life.Caitlin's friend Nina shakily called 911 as she stared in horror. Miraculously, Caitlin was still alive and was rushed to Duke University Hospital where a team of surgeons worked for hours to stabilize her. Nina made a dreaded phone call to Caitlin's parents, asleep in New Jersey. There were no flights out until the next morning. They drove instead. When the hospital called to ask permission to insert a steel rod in Caitlin's leg, her father said it was the best news they'd had all night: It was the first time they knew for sure that their daughter was alive.Caitlin's injuries were so severe that a doctor told her family she probably would not live. If she did, it was uncertain if she would ever speak or walk again, let alone return to the life she was just beginning.But Caitlin's improvement shocked her doctors. After weeks in a coma-like state, several setbacks, one emergency brain surgery, and a half-dozen repairs to her tattered body, Caitlin began to emerge. She opened her eyes. Felt her scars. Seemed to smile at her family through the wires holding her jaw in place. For five weeks her doctor had asked her to squeeze his hand.Finally, she did.Now, three months after that horrible night in September, Caitlin is speaking, hopping on one leg (the other won't be able to bear weight for a few weeks yet), and continuing to fight the hard battle toward recovery. The path ahead is a difficult one, though, and Caitlin—for all her spunk—needs all the help she can get.For three months she has amazed her doctors, nurses, and therapists with her unimaginable progress. They've pulled her family and friends aside in the hallway to tell us that they're rooting for her. We know she still has a few surprises left in her yet.Unfortunately, her insurance has refused to cover everything from private nursing prescribed by the Kessler rehab facility to protect her from accidental injury overnight to specialized speech therapy. Your contributions will help Caitlin get the rehabilitation she desperately needs.With your help, we hope to see her back in L.A. in no time.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
From the Caitlin V. Donnelly Fund website: