On May 20, 27-year-old John Toro was enjoying his new motorcycle when he was struck by another vehicle while leaving a gas station in Florida City.
The next morning, Toro’s brother-in-law drove to his house to give him a ride to work. When he knocked on the door and no one answered, he knew something was wrong.
Toro’s sister, Jennifer Sanchez, then spent three days searching for him with no success. She re-traced all his possible steps and even contacted local police. She also looked for him in several local hospitals, but she still could not locate her older brother.
“I was very worried. I knew something was wrong,” Sanchez said. “The whole situation was very weird and nothing made sense to me.”
Four days after his accident, Sanchez finally found Toro at Jackson South Medical Center. He was taken to Jackson South trauma center with life-threatening injuries to his brain, as well as a broken neck and broken leg that was at risk of amputation.
Toro was so critical that his sister could hardly recognize him when she finally saw him.
He underwent a craniotomy, a procedure in which doctors had to remove part of his skull in order to reduce the amount of swelling in his brain, as well as surgery to treat his broken leg and infections.
After his surgeries, Toro was in an induced coma for nearly a month, leaving his family worried about his condition.
Although Toro, a father of two, was fully aware of the extent of his injuries, he always remained optimistic about his future.
“I knew I was going to be back to normal,” Toro said. “I always knew everything was going to be ok. I’m a very strong person.”
Three months after his accident, Toro feels grateful for getting a second chance at life, and is working hard to get back on his feet.
He received world-class care from a comprehensive medical team, which included Jackson nurses and physicians, such as Dr. Gabriel Ruiz, UHealth trauma surgeon; Dr. Ian Cote, UHealth neurosurgeon; Dr. Gregory Zych, UHealth orthopedic surgeon; Dr. Jaime Carbonell, podiatrist; and Dr. Gemayaret Alvarez-Gonzalez, UHealth physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Toro is currently receiving care, including physical therapy, at Jackson Memorial Perdue Medical Center. He has recently taken his first steps since his accident.
With a new outlook on life, Toro is looking forward to spending time with his family and focusing on his education and career.
“I want to give my kids a good example and be a good father to them,” Toro said.
His caregivers and family have found his speedy recovery to be miraculous.
“After a lot of work from the trauma, neurosurgery, orthopedic, podiatry, and ICU teams, along with therapy at Jackson South and Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital, he’s had the most amazing recovery,” Dr. Ruiz said. “He would not have survived anywhere else. He is truly a miracle.”
Chabellys Payares, RN, who treated Toro in the intensive care unit at Jackson South, remembers how he and his family never gave up.
“We are supposed to inspire patients, but this patient and his family inspired me,” Payares said. “John made an incredible recovery not only with the help of our Jackson staff, but mainly with his will to live.”
The young father credits Jackson and his sister for saving his life and is now excited about what the future holds. He remains optimistic about his recovery and what this next chapter of his life has in store.
“I’m very proud of myself,” Toro said. “I feel good and that I can overcome all my challenges. I feel strong again.”