Stories of Hope

Scott Souza

At the time of my spinal cord injury I was a 26 year old Air Force officer stationed at Travis AFB.   I was four years out of college (US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO) and looking to start my master's degree soon.   Everything was perfect.   I just took over a job as a Flight Commander, responsible for 62 enlisted personnel and one other officer.   And I also just met the requirements for a high-level deployment job which qualified me to take a team of as few as 21 people or more than 100 anywhere in the world to operate an airfield.   I had already deployed around the world as a part of these teams and was looking forward to finally taking the reins.

On April 26th, 2002, I was home from a recent deployment for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and was riding my motorcycle when someone decided to run a red light as I was passing through the intersection.   I was no match for his Ford F-250 4x4 truck, and was practically run over. I had a burst fracture of the C-6 vertebrae which is what damaged my spinal cord.   Additionally, I fractured my shoulder blade, two ribs, my femur, plus I suffered a collapsed lung and a dislocated hip.

My first neck surgery was five days later, and fused C-5 to C-7 on the front side of the vertebrae.   Two and a half months later I began having excruciating pain in my neck.   X-rays showed that the titanium plate was not holding, so the surgery had to be redone.   The doctor removed the plate from the front, and put two titanium plates in the back from C-4 to C-7.   Recovery was very painful due to all the muscle in the back of my neck that had to be cut though.   It was so painful that I was put on a long-lasting morphine pill AND on a morphine IV drip at the same time.   I was overdosed two nights in a row, and had to be sent to the intensive care unit.

My hip dislocated again about two weeks after the accident during physical therapy.   Eleven months later I had to have a total hip replacement surgery.   Now, 15 months after that surgery I am still trying to recover due to the slow healing process that SCI causes the body to have.

Overall, I spent nine months out of the first year in the hospital, and had three major surgeries.   As a disabled veteran, every day I miss serving my country and helping people around the world.   And at 28 years old, there is so much more I want out of life than being confined to this chair with quadriplegia, lacking sensation over most of my body, the inability to control normal bodily functions, and being dependant upon others to take care of basic needs such as showering and getting dressed.   The hope that a cure will be found someday, hopefully soon, is what keeps me going every day.  

Please support the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative, so that someday my hope for a cure will be realized.


Paid for by YES on 71: Coalition for Stem Cell Research and Cures, #1260661
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