Two months after being struck down by a hit-and-run driver, a North Vancouver teen has made her first trip home.
Grace Haines has been in hospital since Jan. 25 when she was hit by a driver while running at Keith Road and St. Andrews Avenue. She had surgery to correct a brain bleed and has been slowly regaining the use of the left side of her body.
“She’s really much better on all accounts,” said her father Chris Haines.
After several weeks at Lions Gate Hospital, Grace was transferred to the Sunny Hill Health Centre at BC Children’s Hospital where she has been showing great progress.
“When she was transferred, she was unable to move her left side, beyond a little twitch of the finger, and she was responsive to signals, but not much else,” Haines said. “She’s come leaps and bounds. She’s able to talk and communicate now. She’s able to move the left side of her body, maybe not 100 per cent but in the 90 per cent range. She’s now moving her hand and her arm. She’s starting to try to pick things up with her left hand. And she’s able to stand and walk with assistance now, which is incredible.”
Grace even just had her first weekend pass, allowing her to leave the hospital and have some semblance of normalcy with her family.
“She was able to sleep in her own bed and stay at home, which is just amazing,” Haines said.
The hope is to move Grace home full time later in the spring.
The hardest part for Grace has been accepting the doctors’ orders that she defer starting university for a year. She has been accepted into the engineering program at Queen’s University in Ontario, where she was eager to move, but she still has a long way to go before she’s ready to live and study independently, Haines said.
“Because head injuries have such a long recovery time, the doctors have said it’s a non-starter for her to go to university, at least if she wants to travel,” he said. “She’s herself but her short-term memory isn’t what it used to be and she gets tired easily, so that has got her very depressed. But we have a lot of great support.”
From the wider community, all Haines asks is some positive thinking.
The fact that she is young and healthy means her nerves are more likely to repair, Haines said. Beyond that, the care she has received in hospital has been top notch, he added.
“I know we all, myself included, like to complain when we have to pay our taxes, but know that the healthcare system that those taxes fund is pretty amazing. It saved her life, and it’s helping her return to normal right now,” he said. “I haven’t seen a bill for anything yet.”
The driver was arrested later that night, although the North Vancouver RCMP’s criminal investigation remains active and no charges have been sworn yet.
Haines said they’re hoping anyone with information about the case will come forward.
“It’s not about retribution. I don’t wish any ill on the driver or their family. I just want to make sure that our healthcare and insurance systems can work properly,” he said.