The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 53
By MEGAN HOYE,
Published: April 11 2012
To the staff at Harborview Medical Center, she is known as “the infamous Emma.”
Seattle Pacific freshman Emma Larson was airlifted to the hospital April 1 after incurring serious injuries in a car accident just outside of Ellensburg, according to the Washington State Patrol.
She has been there ever since, receiving treatment for a spinal cord injury that left her with limited feeling in her arms and legs and making a lasting impression on the hospital nurses, said freshman Hanna Merisko, a friend of Larson’s.
“When people ask the nurses for Emma Larson’s room, [the nurses] laugh and know who she is right away,” Merisko said. “She’s just really spunky and outgoing.”
Merisko said Larson is making progress toward recovery with increased mobility in her arms and improved feeling in her legs.
“She has faith in getting better,” Merisko said. “Her spirits are definitely high.”
Larson was in a car with five other people early on the morning of the accident, driving westbound on I-90 toward Seattle after visiting friends in Pullman. The Washington State Patrol said speed was a factor in the accident and alcohol may also have been involved, according to an NBC report.
The vehicle’s driver, Joshua Glenn, a friend of Larson’s, lost control of the vehicle while changing lanes on the icy road, causing it to flip before finding rest in a ditch, Merisko said.
Glenn and the four other passengers were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, NBC said.
But for Larson, the struggle had just begun. She had an operation in the evening on April 1 to attempt to stabilize her C6/C7 vertebrae, which had been fractured in the accident.
The following day, she underwent another operation to give her spinal cord more support, according to a CaringBridge profile of Larson’s progress, which is updated frequently by her parents, Dale and Chilo Larson.
The password-protected profile had just under 2,500 visits and more than 100 guestbook posts since its creation shortly after Emma Larson’s accident.
Merisko said doctors are unsure what the long-term implications of Larson’s injury will look like.
In an update Sunday, Dale and Chilo Larson wrote, “Emma is making progress; it’s slow and painful — but it’s progress.”
They reported that Emma Larson has increased control over movements in her arms. Physical therapists helped her sit up for several minutes that day as well, and she is undergoing intensive respiratory therapy to help her lungs regain independent breath, the update said.
“Everything for her right now, even the smallest things, requires a Herculean effort on her part and completely exhausts her,” Emma Larson’s parents wrote.
Residents of Larson’s floor in Ashton Hall made a book to give her in the hospital, which included inspirational verses, and the floor hosted a prayer night in her honor the evening of the accident, Merisko said.
“She’s a strong person,” Merisko said. “I was talking with my [peer adviser] today, and we thought that if someone told Emma she’d never walk again, she’d just say, ‘You will not tell me what I can and cannot do,’ and get out of that hospital bed. She’s really independent.”
A page made on the Larson family’s behalf on WePay, a website that, among other things, allows users to fundraise with a crowd-funding model, has raised just under $300 to help with medical costs, but what the Larsons appreciate most is the support of friends and family.
“We have been flooded with emails, text messages and voice mails from so many,” Dale and Chilo Larson wrote on their CaringBridge profile. “We, and Emma, feel blessed to have the support of so many family and friends.”
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