By Vivian Moreau
A Pemberton woman’s “tremendous resolve” was a key factor in saving her arm, which was severed in a car accident last week, according to one of the nine doctors that helped re-attach her arm.
Holding her arm, that had been sliced at the elbow and “was hanging by a thread of skin,” Pemberton resident Joni Ross managed to climb from her car which had slid into a ditch about noon on Feb. 22, according to a headline story in Wednesday’s Vancouver Sun.
Ross, 20, is a women’s studies and psychology student at the University of British Columbia. She was travelling home from Vancouver on slushy Pemberton Meadow Road when her car slid down a two-metre embankment after catching the gravel shoulder and landed on its driver side door. It’s unclear if Ross’s arm was cut by glass, metal or a stump that crashed through the passenger window.
Ross was not knocked unconscious and managed to stand on the driver-side door, push open the passenger door and climb up the embankment holding her severed arm. According to her grandfather, Herb Nolan, she walked half a block to a neighbour’s home, and after finding no one there, stood by the road.
She only waited a few minutes before an off-duty firefighter driving by found her and called 911. She was taken by ambulance to Pemberton Medical Clinic where doctors removed the arm completely and packed it in ice. She was then sent by air ambulance to Vancouver General Hospital, arriving there about 3:40 p.m. Her arm was then re-attached in a nine-hour operation.
Doctors are hopeful Ross will regain use of her arm, which has passed the critical 72-hour point.
“The blood is flowing, her pulse is good and everything at this point is alive,” Dr. Kevin Bush told the Vancouver Sun. “She is worried about the limb’s appearance and function but I told her the first thing is to see if it succeeds and there is no way to predict it,” Bush said, adding it will be six months before they are certain if Ross’s arm will be okay.
Pemberton Secondary School’s principal said Ross, who graduated in 2004, was on the school’s dance and volleyball teams, as well as an academically gifted student who won a scholarship to attend university.
“Joni was really active around the school and is a really good kid,” Lawrence Tarasoff said. “She was always a very determined young lady.”
Dr. Bush said Ross had tremendous resolve to get out of the car and find help and stay calm. “She is an unusual person who did things I doubt many other people would or could do.”