In Memory of Saul Mendoza, Jr

On May 01, 2008 my 13 year old son was riding his bike when he was hit by two cars. The first car hit him at 55 mph. The second car ran him over and left him on the street.

I know my son must have a guardian angel because behind the first car that hit him were the paramedics. They were able to provide medical attention immediately he was taken to Palomar Hospital and stabilized then flown to Rady’s Children Hospital were I was met by two doctors that in minutes turned my world upside down. They told me my son was in a coma and had no brain activity. He was severed at C1 and C2 (spinal cord injury), broken leg, broken shoulder, broken hip and pelvic, broken tail bone and his chances for survival wasn't good. 

Due to his injury he would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life. His right leg was severely injured - the pedal from the bike had gone through his leg. He flew with pedal stuck to his leg and would probably need to be amputated. They said he had only hours to live and that we should say our goodbyes. I felt so hopeless. I would have traded places with him in a heartbeat. I could not believe I had just seeing him running to class a couple of hours before and now I might loose him forever. How would I be able to go on with my life without him? I have been a single mom for 12 years with 4 kids and always found a way out but for the first time I did not know what to do. I felt they had taken my heart, my soul; my life away. I refused to believe I would never see my son again. He has always been the one that made me laugh with his weird jokes. He has always been able to sweet talk his way out of trouble. He would give his lunch if someone was hungry. He would always help some one in need. He is very compassionate and always thinking about someone else before himself. He always found the way to fix everything. He would defend a kid if someone was picking on them. And most of all he loved life. 

He would always tell me one day I will be the first Hispanic president and would make a law for single mothers to work only two days a week and get paid for five so they could be with there kids more. I just could not believe that something so terrible would happen to him. I remember staying all night by his side and asking him please baby don’t give up. Remember me and you against the world. Please don’t leave, I know heaven needs angels like you but I need you more. I notice every time I would get near him he would start to cry. I asked the doctor and she said that those are reflexes. She had more bad news: his kidneys and intestines had just shut down. He will die within hours. His injuries were so severe there is no way that someone can survive them.

Not only does he have a C1, C2 SCI, he also has a traumatic brain injury that if he would survive he would be blind, deaf, never be able to talk, eat, move, walk, breathe on his own, or know what was going on around him. He would never be able to go to a regular school or even home. His quality of life would be terrible and that it would be better to take him off life support and donate his organs. To think that he could give life to others. I then told the doctor maybe that’s true but you don’t know Saul. He is stubborn and hard headed and when he wants something he will fight for it. I know in my heart he will make it. It was not his time. He has to much to do.

The doctor took me out of the room and said even if he wakes up from his coma which is almost impossible, he will need to be on dialysis for the rest of his life and he will need multiple surgeries and in his condition he might not be able to survive the procedures. I couldn’t understand how they could ask a mother to take her child off life support. I just knew I could never do that. He had to much to live for. These were the hardest two weeks of my life to see him laying there and not be able to do anything. The doctors gave no hope and he was getting worst instead of better.

On May 14, 2008 the director from the hospital came in and said that there was nothing else to do and that they had decided to take him of life support. They said legally if they know that a patient is in a coma and that they were only hurting him instead of helping him they could do that. I cried. I pleaded to them to give me hope. I couldn’t say goodbye to him. I went into his room heartbroken. I felt I could not do anything to save him. I told Saul, "If you want to live please do something, please. Open your eyes and tell me that you will be ok." I cried and talked to him for hours. I turned around to see something and when I turned back to him I notice his big brown eyes looking at me and a smile. I knew then he would fight to get better.

Within days doctors started to do surgeries. The first one was a halo. His right leg had to be amputated. A neck fusion. As well as multiple other surgeries. Slowly they started putting him back together. He was able to get off dialysis after three months. One day I walked in his room and I heard his voice. He said, "I love you mommy" for the first time since his accident.

It has been two years since his accident. Saul is now home. He is in high school. He takes regular classes. He is a straight A student with a 3.5 GPA. We found a center called Awakenings that have been working with Saul for almost a year now. He had not been able to get any PT or OT due to his injury insurance. They see no reason for him to get therapy because he will never get better. And there are no places that will take kids on vents that have their injuries so high.

But god has blessed us. We found a center for help. We also found Dreams of Recovery who have helped us to pay for his treatments and therapy; and he has done great.

He has improved so much: he was at 25 breaths per minute on the ventilator and not able to breath on his own. Today he is on 8 breaths and he is able to take breaths on his own. He is determination to get better and stay positive. He is just a amazing kid and has been blessed to have Dreams of Recovery help with a grant for him to keep going to Awakenings and for him to reach his dream of getting better.  

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