Young artist makes miraculous recovery after being hit by 18-wheeler
On October 8, 2010, 21-year-old Emilie Gossiaux’s life changed in an instant. A painter and sculptor whose life was filled with light and color, Ms. Gossiaux’s world plunged into darkness and silence after she was struck by an 18-wheel semi truck while riding her bike near her home in Brooklyn, New York. The truck had been attempting a right turn when it collided with Ms. Gossiaux.
The damage was extensive and doctors at the Manhattan hospital where she was taken didn’t pin too much hope on her recovery. Ms. Gossiaux suffered from multiple fractures to her head, pelvis, and leg. She also sustained a traumatic brain injury and had a stroke. After arriving at Bellevue Hospital, she went into cardiac arrest and her heart ceased to beat for a minute before she was resuscitated.
Ms. Gossiaux’s parents arrived from New Orleans, where the young art student was born and raised. Her boyfriend and fellow Cooper Union student, Alan Lundgard, stayed by her side. According to the New York Times, on the second day, a nurse told Susan Gossiaux, Emilie’s mother, that her daughter had died and asked about organ donation. But Ms. Gossiaux held on to life, though her doctors weren’t optimistic about the type of life she would have if she pulled through.
Ms. Gossiaux had already lost most of her hearing in her teens to an untreatable disorder, but the collision left her blind and unresponsive as well. After several weeks, the best Ms. Gossiaux’s parents could hope for was to take her back to New Orleans and put her in a nursing home for round-the-clock care.
That was before Mr. Lundgard realized he could communicate with his girlfriend by spelling words on the palm of her hand just as Annie Sullivan taught Helen Keller to communicate. According to the New York Times article, after spelling out “I LOVE YOU” in Ms. Gossiaux’s palm, Mr. Lundgard received a grateful response: “Oh, you love me?” she told him, thinking he was a stranger. “That’s so sweet. Thank you.”
Now, more than 10 weeks after the 18-wheeler struck her, Ms. Gossiaux is recovering at New York University’s Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine on East 17th Street, where she undergoes neurorehabilitation for her traumatic brain injury and physical therapy – a scenario her doctors thought for the longest time would never happen.
Miss Gossiaux remains hopeful that she will recover her vision and pick up where she left off, painting and sculpting and joining the Peace Corps.
“I feel like a newborn baby, just starting over,” she told the New York Times.
For more information and to help Ms. Gossiaux, please go to http://www.emiliegossiaux.com/