January 13, 2022
Think about some of the best memories with some of your best friends…it’s likely that college years, nights out on the town and vacations come to mind. When Destiny Frey and her friends think of these memorable moments, they will always remember the tragic night Destiny was struck by a vehicle.
It was November 14, 2020, and the group of friends set out to celebrate a new job and a relocation. They spent time in the popular Grove neighborhood of St. Louis, complete with active night life and plenty of fun. The group had just visited their last stop of the evening when Destiny was flung 25 feet across the street upon impact by a car traveling 35 miles-per-hour down pedestrian-dense streets. At only 24 years old, Destiny experienced more trauma than most people ever have to endure.
The Right Time at the Wrong Place
After the impact, Destiny was unconscious and would be for the next several days. The important efforts to preserve her life would be recounted to her once she regained consciousness, but until then, it was up to the people around her to help her survive. It just so happened that four Barnes-Jewish Hospital physicians were nearby, heard the accident and immediately came to Destiny’s rescue. They phoned the Barnes-Jewish Hospital emergency department (ED) to inform the trauma team that the young woman was heading their way.
A Laundry List of Injuries
The physician on her case at the Barnes-Jewish ED told Destiny’s mom it was, “an absolute miracle she even made it into the ambulance,” based on the severity of her injuries. Top priority was the life-threatening torn aorta, but that wasn’t the only internal injury her body sustained. She was also experiencing a brain bleed, kidney laceration and ruptured spleen. These injuries took precedence over her orthopedic needs, and there were many of those too, including a fractured femur, a broken hip socket, broken pelvis and fractured wrist. She would undergo surgery five different times during her month-long stay at Barnes-Jewish, including extensive work on her pelvis and hip, and inserting a titanium rod in her femur. Marschall Berkes, MD, treated Destiny’s orthopedic injuries and she is thankful for him “piecing her back together.” Finally, on her twenty-fifth birthday, she was extubated and some of her darkest days were behind her.
Personal Life on Pause
A month in the hospital, followed by inpatient rehabilitation, did not leave Destiny with much of a personal life. She had to focus on healing and relearning the basics, like bearing weight on her lower half and walking again. Prior to the accident, Destiny’s friend played match-maker and Destiny was looking forward to a date with an ED nurse named Hunter. Hunter had only known Destiny for two days before her accident, but he knew he wanted to wait for her. Months after their originally-planned first date, Hunter visited Destiny at home where she was rehabbing in the family living room for optimal assistance. “He’s a ray of sunshine,” and they have shared many memories together since then.
A Group Effort
The kind of healing Destiny required was not a quick process. Her journey was just as exhausting mentally as it was physically and she needed a lot of assistance. “Everyone in my household played a role,” she explained. Her mom slept on the couch to be near Destiny in the living room to make sure she had her medications, to get her to and from the restroom, to help her adjust positions and with anything else she needed. Her dad kept Destiny on track with physical therapy exercises and offered 30-second hugs to help Destiny carry the weight of her catastrophic situation. She remembers remaining positive 98% of the time, but in the extra-long hugs with her father, she allowed herself to be emotional and let out a cry every once in a while. Her sister, Keely, provided the comedic entertainment that only younger sisters can, “She’s my best friend and most favorite person in this whole world.”
Reaching the Mountain Top
Seven months after the accident, Destiny was in Utah with her college roommates. On that trip, she set out to hike a mountain with the group. She had made it 0.2 miles and debated if she would be able to go on, the uphill climb looking nearly impossible after all her body had sustained. With some encouragement from her friends and an immense amount of willpower, Destiny finished the 3.5-mile hike and once she reached the top, she burst into tears. That moment was symbolic for her mirroring the uphill battle she endured to repair and heal her body after the November 14 accident.
Upon her return, Dr. Berkes was shocked to learn Destiny had successfully completed the mountain hike. He discharged her from care one year after her massive polytrauma, and Destiny confessed she was actually a bit bummed not to have regular appointments with Dr. Berkes anymore. He shares, “Her story is truly amazing and she has done phenomenally from a clinical perspective. She is also one of the nicest, most inspiring people I have ever met.”
Washington University Orthopedic trauma specialists are highly specialized and affiliated with Barnes-Jewish Hospital, a Level 1 trauma center. Patients will have the best in physician expertise and comprehensive services for both inpatient and outpatient care.