Daniel Dekleer, son of Rita Dekleer, a VCH infection control nurse, is thriving because of the exceptional care he received at VGH.
It was nearing midnight when 22-year-old Daniel Dekleer was on his way home from a memorial. He was sitting in the front passenger seat of his friend's car when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye — headlights coming directly towards him. Daniel tried to warn his friend, but it was too late. A tow truck pulling a bus T-boned the car, passenger-side first.
The impact sent the car flying onto a concrete divider. Daniel blacked out.
“When I came to, I knew I wasn't dead," says Daniel. “I just knew I was broken."
The ambulance rushed Daniel and his friend to VGH. That's when Rita Dekleer, Daniel's mom and an infection control nurse at VGH, received the call from a police officer.
“It's every parent's nightmare," says Rita. “You're sound asleep and you get a call saying your son was in a terrible accident." Rita grabbed her keys and rushed out the door to VGH.
Daniel had broken his pelvis in four places, his tailbone and two ribs. The right side of his face was shredded from broken glass. To make matters more complicated, Daniel has Von Willebrand disease, a genetic disorder caused by a missing or defective clotting protein. This means his blood doesn't clot on its own, making his injuries that much more dangerous.
Still, Rita knew he was in exceptional hands.
“I was so relieved that he was brought to VGH, my hospital, where I know there are so many amazing health care workers," says Rita. “I have complete trust in them."
Caption: Daniel describes himself as “broken" after the car crash.
VGH is home to B.C.'s leading Level 1 Trauma Centre, treating patients from across the province. Our trauma team, with the help of a hematologist, addressed Daniel's blood-clotting complications and broken bones. Afterwards, he was transferred to the Burn, Trauma & High Acuity Unit — an area Rita routinely examines during her work shifts.
It felt surreal to be on the other side the bed says Rita, but she was impressed with how fast they had Daniel on the mend.
Within 24 hours of his accident, Daniel was moving his legs. Within 48 hours he was walking down the hall. By the third day, he was discharged and continuing his care from home.
A year on, Daniel is feeling more motivated than ever to pursue his passion and music goals. Rita, and Daniel's dad, Paul, remain incredibly grateful their son's survival and recovery.
“As a nurse I'm aware of how quickly life can change," says Rita. “I'm extremely thankful to the entire VGH staff and especially the emergency, high acuity and hematology teams for saving my son. I feel immensely proud to work alongside such caring and talented people."