For Preston Simpson, the journey to recovery has been a long one with a happy ending.
The Rockport boy has made an amazing recovery from a near-fatal ATV accident he had at 23-months-old on December 8, 2020, thanks to the expertise and resourcefulness of the staff at Driscoll Children’s Hospital. Two years later to the day, Preston and his family returned to Driscoll to reunite with their hospital family.
December 8, 2020, started like any other day. His Mom, Mercedes Simpson, picked him up from school and they went to his grandmother’s house to ride the 4-wheeler, something they did regularly. While on the 4-wheeler, Mercedes bent down to adjust Preston’s legs so they wouldn’t get caught in anything or get burned. When she did so, Preston accidentally pushed the gas, Mercedes fell off and Preston hit a tree, making a direct impact with his head.
Preston was airlifted to Driscoll’s Emergency Room, where doctors and staff worked frantically to save the life of the 23-month-old who had experienced a traumatic and life-threatening brain injury.
The difference between now and then is astounding. In December 2020, Preston was a toddler fighting for his life. He now is a happy, healthy little boy enjoying himself, running around as if he didn’t have a care in the world. Preston, who turned 4 on January 8, 2023, is a dynamo, someone constantly in motion.
For some of the Driscoll team, December 8, 2022, was the first time they had seen Preston since he spent months in the hospital at Driscoll. The reunion was a successful and heartwarming one, with much of the Driscoll team marveling at how well Preston was doing.
One Driscoll department quite familiar with helping Preston is Rehabilitation Services, who provided services necessary for his complete recovery. Therapists quickly fell in love with the bubbly little boy.
“It was great working with him. Preston has such a wonderful personality. His parents are so dedicated and they have worked really hard. Everything we suggested, they did. That’s why Preston has made such progress,” said Eunice Castro, a Speech Language Pathologist.
The Simpson family planned the reunion to show their gratitude to the team responsible for saving their son’s life.
“I think it’s so important to see the staff at Driscoll because this was a life-changing event for us. It changed every aspect of our life and they played a huge role in helping us stabilize that and to move forward. They saved our son, so I think it’s important to see them and to thank them and let them see his progress as the little boy in the bed who couldn’t move. We’re just so thankful for them and what they have done for us. They made something that was horrific for us a little bit easier by the care they gave us,” said Mercedes.
Preston’s journey has been a slow but steady one.
“Sometimes it’s kind of like living a dream. You don’t ever want that to happen to your child, so it’s kind of shocking and devastating and then we witnessed a bunch of miracles along the way,” said Mercedes.
“Preston is doing great. He’s medication-free since August. That is something we never thought was going to happen because seizures were a major risk for him. He’s not on anything but vitamins and that has been a blessing,” she said.
“Because of Driscoll, our son is with us today. They went from very unstable situations, they got him stable for us, which was a very long process. They are helping him learn to talk again so Driscoll has pretty much been there from Day 1 and they are still there trying to help him recover. That means a lot,” said Tyson Simpson, Preston's dad.
“We are big fans of Driscoll. We love Driscoll. Not only did they save our son, but they gave us great care while we were there. They met us on every level that we needed to be met. They made us comfortable. They fixed anything we needed fixed,” said Mercedes.
Driscoll’s professional, personalized care gave the Simpsons the reassurance they needed.
“They were very communicative with us. We definitely think they are top-notch and we are so thankful to have them in our area so that we can get to them quickly. We’ve been to some other children’s hospitals since Driscoll – for rehab and stuff like that – the care was majorly different. We are just really thankful for Driscoll,” she said.
“It means a lot. You could tell that everyone there had the training, they knew what they were doing. It wasn’t any second-guessing on what they should have done. They were very experienced. They were very comforting to us in making sure we knew what was going on. They were keeping us in the loop at all times,” said Tyson. “They made sure we had a plan when we left, like hey, keep working on this stuff and things will be good.”
As grateful as they are, the Simpsons are realistic about where Preston’s journey has taken the family.
“The journey has been really hard over the last two years. I would say when the accident happened that we didn’t think we would still be visiting the hospital weekly, that we didn’t know what to expect. Part of us, right before we left, we thought we might have a really bad outcome. But things have improved. We’ve done a lot of work,” said Mercedes.
For almost two years Preston did physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy two days a week. He is now down to just speech therapy.
When Preston was injured, he was partially paralyzed. The transformation since then is nothing short of miraculous.
“Preston couldn’t sit up, couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink, couldn’t do anything. Actually, he couldn’t even breathe on his own at one time,” said Mercedes. “So Preston, from where he was to where he is now: he’s breathing, he’s eating, he’s drinking, he can walk and run and talk. He goes to school and he’s like any other kid now. He got his life back.”