Karsten’s Story

Life was good. My career was great. I had a loving wife, a beautiful little girl, and a baby on the way. Everything was just fine. We had just gone for coffee at my sister’s.

On November 28, 2019, my pregnant wife Jen, our daughter Brooklyn and my parents, Owen and Brenda, were leaving Prince Albert on our way back home to Saskatoon after going for coffee at my sister’s.

That morning the temperature was hovering around zero degrees Celsius; but unfortunately, this came along with freezing rain. We were only one kilometer from my sister’s house, on a gravel road when our SUV lost control and slid into a steep embankment.

You and I know winter driving in Saskatchewan can be unpredictable and accidents do happen. When you support Royal University Hospital Foundation you will ensure that the medical teams at Royal University Hospital (RUH) will be ready to save lives at any moment.

My wife Jen said, “It felt like we hit a wall,” when she describes the impact of our vehicle sliding into the ditch. The airbags went off, causing white powder to fill the air and our number one concern was for our 22-month-old daughter Brooklyn.

I was in the back middle seat, my wife and daughter were on either side of me. Jen was yelling at me to get Brooklyn out of her car seat because, in a panic, she thought the dust from the airbags was smoke from the engine. She got out of the vehicle and ran around to the other side to remove Brooklyn; I went to move to get out of the vehicle too, and I said to Jen, “I can’t feel my legs.”

We were all worried about Brooklyn, but she was fine, she didn’t make a peep. I think she was in shock. After Jen got her free from her seat she looked over at me, I looked back at her and said, “I literally cannot move.’’ I remember the extreme pain setting in.

A man, who had also slid into the ditch, called 911 for us. The ambulance first took me to the hospital in Prince Albert. My whole family was examined and thankfully everyone was fine except me. Due to the severity of my condition, I was rushed by ambulance to RUH in Saskatoon.

At RUH, the emergency team determined I had broken my T12 vertebra and had bone fragments pushing into my spinal cord. I was going to need spinal surgery, and it was unknown if I would ever walk again.

I spent five long days on bed rest, waiting for an operating room to open up. I was filled with anxiety waiting for the surgery that would determine if I would ever walk again. I was trying to be brave for my family. As a young dad, you think to yourself, I’m the dad and I have a family to provide for. The morning of surgery, as I was being wheeled into the operating room, I was thinking “you are going to walk, or you aren’t, but you will have to live with the result.”

Jen was also really nervous but said that she felt confident that we were in good hands with Dr. Fourney, the nurses and the entire medical team that would be doing the surgery.

The surgery went well and fortunately, on day three post-surgery, I was able to stand. After 15 days in hospital, I was able to walk out and go home to my wife and daughter.

Jen and I are so incredibly grateful for the care and support we received at RUH. Today, I can walk. I still have pain. I can’t jump or run, but I can lift up my two little girls and play with them and I am continuing to heal.

Every surgery has a patient story not unlike mine. It may be your story, a family member’s or a friend.

Your donation will ensure RUH will be ready for patients like me. Today, I am asking that you help advance the future of surgery at RUH.

Your gift will ensure surgeons at Royal University Hospital are ready to save lives. Maybe even yours. Thank you.

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To find out more about how to support surgical priorities at Royal University Hospital, at Royal University Hospital click here or contact Lisa Sands, Chief Development Officer, at 306.655.6477 or lisa.sands@ruhf.org.