75 days in the hospital, 20 surgeries and over 70 hours of therapy.
While 2020 has been a year for the ages, Sarah Frei from Syracuse, Utah, has had a particularly rough go. On July 30th, 2020 at around 8:30 pm, Frei was in an accident that changed her life forever. She was on her way home from a trip with 3 friends when an alleged drunk driver swerved into their lane and hit their car head-on. All passengers in the vehicle were wearing seatbelts. She and her friends were taken to various hospitals in Cache Valley and treated for their injuries.
Sarah's injury, a T11 spinal cord injury, which means it is unlikely she will be able to use prostheses in the future and will need to rely on a wheelchair for the rest of her life. I
In the accident, her lower back was damaged which resulted in paralysis from the waist down, which the medical team believes will be permanent. Both legs were not receiving the blood they needed to thrive, and because of that and the paralysis, the recommendation from the medical team was to amputate both legs.
Since the accident, this young warrior has been through no less than 20 surgeries.
“We really are just in awe of her,” the teen’s mother, Amy Frei, told Good Morning America . “The first time she was able to sit up and she could actually see and feel her legs, there were no tears. The first thing she said was, ‘They did a good job.'”
“It was just beautiful. She has stayed positive and held us through it and, almost in a way, made it easier on us.”
After spending two and a half weeks in the ICU and undergoing dozens of surgeries, Frei was finally able to go home. She had missed a few important events over the summer, like her senior year homecoming dance, however, along with her family and friends, Frei recreated the dance at the hospital.
After 75 days in the hospital, 20 surgeries, and over 70 hours of therapy, Sarah was able to go home on October 13, 2020. The University of Utah cheerleaders also came to cheer Sarah on as she was walked out of the rehab hospital. The young cheerleader was overwhelmed at the amount of love and support shown to her. Prayers and love sent to her from around the world and in particular her community have given her strength and she knows she will continue to get stronger as she continues with outpatient therapy over the next few months.
There was one more thing Frei was hoping to check off her list. She wanted to rejoin her cheerleading squad for her school’s last home football game of the year. It was something that had never been guaranteed, but now that she was home again, she was able to go. In an 8-minute video, that I mostly cried through, you can watch Sarah as she surprises her school with an entrance to cheer with her team!
“We are grateful for your love and prayers for Sarah’s continued recovery. We still have a long road ahead of us! But these moments are so meaningful and help make everything better," writes her family on Facebook.