Boating accident changes student’s life

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Boating accident changes student’s life

Junior Trett Johnson takes a moment to reflect on the beach March 16, 2017, in Mobile Bay during a family vacation. Just four months after this photo, Johnson found himself in a life-threatening boating accident that would require five surgeries and months of healing. Junior Haley Mcvay said her friendship with Johnson strengthened after the accident. “It was an eye-opening experience because he was in the hospital for a long time,” Mcvay said. “Not that we took his friendship for granted, but after it happened, we became closer because we wanted to be with him more.” / 
Junior Trett Johnson toma un momento para reflexionar en la playa el 16 de marzo de 2017 en la Bahía Móvil durante unas vacaciones de familia. Sólo cuatro meses después de que esta foto fuera tomada, Johnson se encontró en un accidente de canotaje que amenazaría su vida, requeriría cinco cirugías, y meses de curación. Junior Haley Mcvay dijo que su amistad con Johnson se ha reforzado después del accidente. “Esta experiencia abrió mis ojos porque él estuvo en el hospital por mucho tiempo,” dijo Mcvay. “No es que diéramos su amistad por sentada, pero después de lo que pasó, nos hicimos más cercanos y apreciamos más su amistad.”

Junior Trett Johnson takes a moment to reflect on the beach March 16, 2017, in Mobile Bay during a family vacation. Just four months after this photo, Johnson found himself in a life-threatening boating accident that would require five surgeries and months of healing. Junior Haley Mcvay said her friendship with Johnson strengthened after the accident. “It was an eye-opening experience because he was in the hospital for a long time,” Mcvay said. “Not that we took his friendship for granted, but after it happened, we became closer because we wanted to be with him more.” / Junior Trett Johnson toma un momento para reflexionar en la playa el 16 de marzo de 2017 en la Bahía Móvil durante unas vacaciones de familia. Sólo cuatro meses después de que esta foto fuera tomada, Johnson se encontró en un accidente de canotaje que amenazaría su vida, requeriría cinco cirugías, y meses de curación. Junior Haley Mcvay dijo que su amistad con Johnson se ha reforzado después del accidente. “Esta experiencia abrió mis ojos porque él estuvo en el hospital por mucho tiempo,” dijo Mcvay. “No es que diéramos su amistad por sentada, pero después de lo que pasó, nos hicimos más cercanos y apreciamos más su amistad.”

Johnson family photo

Junior Trett Johnson takes a moment to reflect on the beach March 16, 2017, in Mobile Bay during a family vacation. Just four months after this photo, Johnson found himself in a life-threatening boating accident that would require five surgeries and months of healing. Junior Haley Mcvay said her friendship with Johnson strengthened after the accident. “It was an eye-opening experience because he was in the hospital for a long time,” Mcvay said. “Not that we took his friendship for granted, but after it happened, we became closer because we wanted to be with him more.” / Junior Trett Johnson toma un momento para reflexionar en la playa el 16 de marzo de 2017 en la Bahía Móvil durante unas vacaciones de familia. Sólo cuatro meses después de que esta foto fuera tomada, Johnson se encontró en un accidente de canotaje que amenazaría su vida, requeriría cinco cirugías, y meses de curación. Junior Haley Mcvay dijo que su amistad con Johnson se ha reforzado después del accidente. “Esta experiencia abrió mis ojos porque él estuvo en el hospital por mucho tiempo,” dijo Mcvay. “No es que diéramos su amistad por sentada, pero después de lo que pasó, nos hicimos más cercanos y apreciamos más su amistad.”

Johnson family photo

Johnson family photo

Junior Trett Johnson takes a moment to reflect on the beach March 16, 2017, in Mobile Bay during a family vacation. Just four months after this photo, Johnson found himself in a life-threatening boating accident that would require five surgeries and months of healing. Junior Haley Mcvay said her friendship with Johnson strengthened after the accident. “It was an eye-opening experience because he was in the hospital for a long time,” Mcvay said. “Not that we took his friendship for granted, but after it happened, we became closer because we wanted to be with him more.” / Junior Trett Johnson toma un momento para reflexionar en la playa el 16 de marzo de 2017 en la Bahía Móvil durante unas vacaciones de familia. Sólo cuatro meses después de que esta foto fuera tomada, Johnson se encontró en un accidente de canotaje que amenazaría su vida, requeriría cinco cirugías, y meses de curación. Junior Haley Mcvay dijo que su amistad con Johnson se ha reforzado después del accidente. “Esta experiencia abrió mis ojos porque él estuvo en el hospital por mucho tiempo,” dijo Mcvay. “No es que diéramos su amistad por sentada, pero después de lo que pasó, nos hicimos más cercanos y apreciamos más su amistad.”

By Ryan Stanley

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Pinned against the wall with the boat crushing him, junior Trett Johnson had no idea what his life-threatening injury would entail.

After spending July 3, 2017, on the lake with his family, Johnson helped his dad put their boat back in its storage unit.

“My dad was backing the boat up, and I was guiding him,” Johnson said. “My back was against a metal wall, and the boat shifted my direction, pinning me. I yelled at my dad to go forward. He did, I stumbled around to the driver’s side of the truck and told him I couldn’t breathe.”

His mother Rhonda Johnson noticed his worsening condition as time went on. Johnson said he remembered his insides felt like they were burning.

“I heard them come in. I heard my husband’s voice, and I could tell from his tone that something was wrong,” Mrs. Johnson said. “When I came out and saw Trett, his coloration was really off, he was very pale. He was obviously not normal and was suffering from some kind of problem.”

Mrs. Johnson said she felt a sense of concern as a mother, but stayed aware her reaction would influence him as well as her other children.

“I tried to stay calm and think reasonably about what we needed to do,” Mrs. Johnson said. “I am a person of faith and religion, so I internally started saying prayers and asking for strength and guidance to help get him taken care of.

Johnson’s parents then rushed him to the emergency room at Baylor Scott & White.

“I went and got an MRI,” Johnson said. “After checking the scans, they said I had a grade four liver laceration with a lot of blood loss and possibly a bruised vertebrae. The doctors told me if I had come 30 minutes later I probably would’ve needed a blood transfusion.”

After staying in the ER for two hours, he had to be care-flighted to the Children’s Hospital in Dallas.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking for him to be put into the helicopter and watch it take off, knowing they were taking him to a hospital in downtown Dallas,” Mrs. Johnson said. “It took us over an hour to get there because of bad traffic.”

After arriving at Children’s Hospital, doctors told Johnson and his family he had to stay overnight in in the intensive care unit.

“I was in the hospital for four days. Then, I went home for a week,” Johnson said. “I gained 12 pounds within that week. I went back to the hospital, and the doctors said my main bile duct is severed.”

Complications kept him in and out of the hospital for a month and resulted in five surgeries.

“During that time, Trett was not able to eat very much, and he lost a lot of weight,” Mrs. Johnson said. “His physical appearance changed dramatically over that time and obviously as a mom, it was difficult to watch that and not feel like there was anything I could do.”

Mrs. Johnson said Trett managed to keep a positive attitude throughout the hospital stay despite setbacks.

“I think overall he kept a pretty good attitude and tried to stay positive, but the ongoing complications escalated his situation,” Mrs. Johnson said. “We kept thinking he was getting to a point of improvement only to have another problem that would not only try our patience, but also Trett’s. Hospital rooms are a very small place so it took all of us working and focusing on Trett’s health to keep things positive.”

Besides the around-the-clock food service, Johnson’s favorite parts of the hospital were the nurses and doctors.

“They helped me with whatever I needed and were very good at what they did,” Johnson said. “I don’t think I would have recovered as quickly or as well as I did if it weren’t for them.”

Johnson’s longtime friend, junior Abbey Debons, visited him after he left the hospital.

“He scared me a little bit,” Debons said. “He was really pale and skinny. I was worried for him because he did not look healthy.”

Junior Haley Mcvay said her friendship with Johnson strengthened after the accident.

“It was an eye-opening experience because he was in the hospital for a long time,” Mcvay said. “Not that we took his friendship for granted, but after it happened, we became closer because we wanted to be with him more.”

Johnson said the experience also taught him to change his outlook on academics and in life.  

“It taught me to not put so much stress and pressure on myself to be perfect because at any point in time, it can all be taken away from you,” Johnson said. “I learned that getting one bad grade isn’t going to ruin your life, but getting hit by a boat can ruin your life.”

This story was originally published on Eagle Nation Online on August 28, 2018.