Hope Following Brain Injury - Delaney Saslav

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In May 2012, the Saslav family was enjoying a day by the pool with their friends, the De Luigi family. “We called for everyone to get out of the pool for a while,” Jill Saslav explains, but three-year-old Delaney Saslav sneaked back to the pool and fell in.

The De Luigi’s daughter, five-year-old Cyan, saw the accident and ran for help. Beata De Luigi jumped in and pulled Delaney out of the water, and her husband, Jason De Luigi, DO, a sports medicine physician with MedStar NRH, administered CPR. “The doctors in the ER said that Delaney was alive because someone had performed the right kind of resuscitation,” Jill says. “There is no question in my mind that the De Luigi family saved her life.”

After weeks in intensive care, Delaney was ready for rehabilitation.

“We knew nothing about rehab and what to do next,” Jill adds. “But [Dr. De Luigi] took care of it for us, and I’m so grateful that we came to MedStar NRH. For weeks while Delaney was in the ICU, I felt so separated from my child. I had to leave her well-being to other people. But when I came here, I felt like a mom again. I got to hold Delaney for the first time. The MedStar NRH team includes my husband and me in everything and encourages us to be a part of the process. It’s like family.”

When Delaney arrived at the National Center for Children’s Rehabilitation (NCCR) at MedStar NRH she wasn’t able to sit up or speak. Her arms were in spasm and bent across her chest. A month later, she was sitting up, learning to stand, and beginning to talk. “The first thing she said was ‘mom’ and it was a wonderful moment,” says Jill. She adds, “Everything at the hospital focuses on helping the family work together to get your child well and back home. There is such great support from the therapists, doctors, and nurses—and the other families with kids in the hospital. Even the hospital president John Rockwood stops by to see how we are doing.”

Jill and Andrew Saslav know that recovery is a long-term process, but they are encouraged by Delaney’s progress. For Dr. De Luigi, who faithfully stops by most mornings to give Delaney a hug, her recovery is a wonderful sight to see. “It’s so amazing to see how far she has come since that tragic day—to see the transformation of a child on a ventilator to the delightful, little girl playing with the therapists.”

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