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A family’s Journey to Healing

Margaret Smith is matter-of-fact about the painful, perilous journey that she began in early 2009. The now 17-year-old has moved on from a potentially fatal condition, and is back to playing intense games of soccer. Her father Bart says, “For her to talk about it today as if it was no big deal says a lot about the care she received.”

Margaret’s traumatic journey actually began well before she knew it. A blow during a soccer game had injured a vein, but there were no symptoms. Months later, after sitting long hours during an exam, Margaret suddenly could barely walk and felt excruciating pain in her leg.

The next morning, Margaret and her mother went to Shady Grove’s Pediatrics Emergency Department for a battery of tests, never expecting the diagnosis they would receive. Shady Grove radiologists found a deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot, that if untreated could fatally travel to her brain, lungs, or heart, an extremely unusual condition for someone Margaret’s age. Dr. Richard Silva, a vascular surgeon, performed the surgery to remove the clot, which had grown to a shocking twelve inches in length since Margaret’s soccer injury.

Margaret’s journey would ultimately include two challenging surgeries in just four days, and another surgery two weeks later. Her mother Barbara was with her every step of the way. Barbara was able to stay overnight in the hospital, dozing on a sleeper chair by her daughter’s bed. Barbara says, “The nurses made me feel at home, and I was so thankful — I would have gone crazy not being there.”

From the nurse who used a flashlight to avoid disturbing Margaret to the cafeteria workers who were there to serve mid-night snacks; from the nurses whose gentleness made Margaret’s pain easier to bear to the radiologists who went out of their way to help Margaret feel comfortable. Margaret’s parents carry with them memories of the many people at Shady Grove who helped them through their ordeal. “Everyone made Margaret feel special,” her father says. “As if she were almost the
only one there.”

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