Courtney H

A fall from a horse left nine-year-old Courtney with a lacerated spleen, a shattered kidney, and severe internal bleeding. When asked where the ambulance should take her for emergency care, her mother said Stony Brook Children's and only Stony Brook Children's.

The message was waiting for Susan H when she returned from dropping off her nine-year-old daughter at equestrian camp. Courtney had fallen off a horse and an ambulance had been dispatched. But where did Susan want the ambulance to take Courtney? Susan didn't hesitate. Stony Brook Children's.

Soon after admission, Courtney — who was experiencing severe stomach pain — voided into a bedpan and began to bleed profusely. She lost 75 percent of her blood and went into shock. "There were doctors around her in seconds," recalls Susan. One was Thomas Lee, MD, former Chief of Pediatric Surgery, who told her that Courtney had a level four laceration on her spleen, a completely shattered left kidney and severe internal bleeding.

"You have to understand, my children are my life. I pretty much put all my trust in Dr. Lee. And he was phenomenal," she says. "He would call me at three in the morning to ask how Courtney was — and how I was." Dr. Lee gave Courtney a blood transfusion on the day of the accident, then a second one a day later because she was still bleeding. If a third was necessary, he told Susan he would have to perform surgery and that Courtney would most likely lose her kidney.

He watched Courtney carefully, predicting that the earlier interventions were enough and her bleeding would stop. He was right. No surgery necessary. Today, at 17, Courtney's kidneys and spleen are fine. She's an award-winning swimmer and a healthy, typical teenager, "which means," says her mother with a smile, "that she's driving me crazy."