A special program pairs pediatric trauma survivors to find hope and meaning as they heal.

Child Health, News | 4 months ago

This Pediatric Trauma Survivor Now Helps Other Kids Heal, Too

A special program pairs pediatric trauma survivors to find hope and meaning as they heal.

Recovering from injury isn’t the same as healing from trauma. For Makayla Owens, healing from the trauma of a devastating car accident as a teenager meant finding meaning in her pain.

Makayla relied on her faith and friends when the accident sidelined her from her normally busy lifestyle for months. She also relied on the Pediatric Trauma Survivors Network (TSN) at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital, which pairs people who’ve experienced similar traumas to offer mutual understanding and support. The program was so helpful that Makayla asked to volunteer before even she left the hospital. Now, she helps others find hope and meaning as they heal.

“We talk with trauma patients, tell them about our story and we hear about their story,” she says. “We give each patient what they need: Some just need us to tell them about our dog or talk about their favorite movie for a distraction. Others want to hear how to get through the trauma.”

Not only did Makayla find meaning in her pain, she also discovered direction for her future. While she had already aspired to a healthcare career, her experience narrowed her focus. “Because of my accident, I decided on nursing because of the Levine Children’s staff and how caring they were. They were all so great. I knew then that this what I want to do and who I want to be.”

Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital is the only pediatric Level 1 trauma center in the region. To be qualified as a Level 1 Trauma Center, a hospital must meet stringent criteria, including around-the-clock in-house coverage by general surgeons and prompt availability of specialty care (including neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery and critical care). In addition to this care, patients receive support and encouragement from other survivors – to help with both recovery and healing.

Makayla offers hope and encouragement to others dealing with trauma. “This is going to seem like the darkest time of your life, that you’re stuck at rock bottom and it’s getting worse,” she says. “In the end, you will learn so much from this experience and you will heal in so many ways.”

Learn more about the TSN support services at Levine Children’s Hospital and Atrium Health’s pediatric trauma center.