MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Alejandro Arroyo, 41, of Cicero, Ill., was pushing his stalled car when he was hit by a car going 45 miles per hour. "I was wedged into the side of my SUV and flattened like a cartoon character," he said. Arroyo was treated at Loyola University Medical Center's Level 1 Trauma Center for a crushed pelvis and several other serious injuries in 2009. "I told my wife my life was not over and we needed to celebrate," he said.
This year his wife of 19 years, Rosalinda, gave birth to Chicago's official first baby of the New Year , born at 12:00:01 a.m. at Loyola University Medical Center. The couple named their daughter Alejandra, after her father. The family, with Alejandra now almost 8 months old, celebrated at Loyola Level 1 Trauma Center's Big Save Barbecue at Loyola University Medical Center on Aug. 20.
More than 1,000 Loyola Trauma patients and their families were invited to reunite with Loyola medical staff and share their survival stories. Tales of recovery from gunshot wounds, motorcycle crashes, falls from rooftops and more were recounted by patients ages 17 to 80.
Virginia Schafer, 72, formerly of Hinsdale, plummeted into a retaining wall when the car she was driving was rear-ended.
“My car was built in 1994 and had no air bags so I was crushed,” she explained to the audience at Loyola’s Big Save Barbecue reunion. “The paramedics later told me they didn’t think I was going to make it; my face had to be completely reconstructed.”
Melanie Mitchell drove to Loyola from Indiana to celebrate her Big Save. “I was just walking when I was struck by a dirt bike,” she said. “I had three skull fractures and brain trauma, plus broken legs and much more.”
The hundreds who came shared more than hot dogs, hamburgers and cake. “My brother is not only alive today but walking and back at work because Loyola is a Level 1 Trauma Center,” Sharon Gautschy said. Trent Gautschy was pinned under a truck for more than five hours in rural Illinois and airlifted to Loyola for care.
The annual Loyola Big Save Barbecue is led by Dr. Thomas Esposito, chief of the Division of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care and Burns in the Department of Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center.
Loyola is the only Level 1 Trauma center certified by the American College of Surgeons in Illinois.
A Level 1 trauma center is equipped to provide comprehensive emergency medical services to patients suffering traumatic injuries -- car and motorcycle crashes, stabbings, athletic injuries, falls -- using multidisciplinary treatment and specialized resources, Esposito said.
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.