PITTSBURGH - One step at a time, 15-year-old Keaton Meerdo is getting stronger.
In October, Keaton and his sister were involved in a violent head-on crash while on their way to Trinity High School. Crews at the scene took an hour to cut them from the wreckage. (Click here to read that story.)
“At the scene, it was horrific. But we didn’t know how bad he really was until we got (to the hospital) and they told us not to expect him to make it,” said the kids’ mother, Crystal Meerdo.
Keaton’s sister, Bricelyn, had numerous broken bones, but Keaton’s injuries were far more severe.
“Several doctors suggested that we turn the ventilator off and let him go. That just wasn’t an option,” Crystal Meerdo said.
Keaton suffered a brain stem and upper spinal injury. He can’t talk, but has quickly learned sign language to communicate with his family and doctors.
He does more than three hours of physical, occupational and speech therapy every day at the Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Unit.
“Even pulling on your shirt or sitting up on your own can be such an amazing accomplishment to somebody who was unable to move at all,” said pediatric rehab medicine physician Dr. Jason Edinger.
It’s broken out into small segments so he can build back up his endurance.
“To the amount that Keaton’s recovered that we’re walking, really with some help back here, is quite remarkable. It really is,” said physical therapist Sara Shippen.
Keaton said he’s motivated by the support he’s received.
“Everyone sending me cards and the visits,” he said through his sister.
Keaton had long wanted to become a marine, according to his parents. They said that’s what drives his determination.
His family is working to raise money to make their home more accessible for Keaton when he is discharged. Click here to donate.