Ten-year old Ashlyn Ainger was doing what she loves most – riding her horse on her family’s ranch in Sanger. But a terrible accident nearly took her life. Thankfully, Ashlyn was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center, home to the only Level 1 trauma center in the Central Valley. Ashlyn was cared for by a multi-specialty team who her family credits for her survival.
Ashlyn said she’s the happiest when she’s riding one of her horses, something she’s been doing since she was four-years old. Her mother, Nicole, said, “Because we have our trainer here, Earl and his daughter, as long as there’s an adult present, her and Texanne ride multiple horses all the time so it was just a normal day.”
But the morning took a turn, when the horse Ashlyn was riding stepped on a sprinkler and reared up, knocking her off. Ashlyn had not been wearing a helmet and the horse ended up stepping on her head as it tried to avoid her.
“I was actually just across the street on the other side of our ranch when I got the phone call from Ashley who is Earl’s wife just saying you need to come right now… Then when I got here, it turned into, just surreal, this isn’t happening. When I opened my truck door and see Earl crying to Jesus saying we need a miracle right now and just holding my baby girl, I’m like this is not happening, this is not real.”
Ashlyn’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Nicholas Levine, shares her severe injuries, “She sustained facial trauma, head trauma, the trauma team saw her and immediately called the neuro surgical team. We were able to get imaging immediately, and then I took her directly to the operating room. She had an open laceration on her forehead, her skull was depressed right above her eye, and she had that injury extend onto her eyelid.”
Dr. Levine said it was no more than 30 minutes from the time Ashlyn came into the emergency department and was in the operating room for brain surgery, “That is exceedingly quick that just happened to be when she came in during the day. But we do try and have everyone within the operating room within an hour. There’s the trauma team that’s based there, we have neuro surgical physician assistants there, and of course whenever the neuro surgeon is in the hospital, there’s an immediate response.”
“I said I felt like I was in a movie as far as they were ready for her, we walked thru the double doors, they were ready for her,” said Nicole.
The trauma center at Community Regional is the only level 1 located between Los Angeles and Sacramento, staffed 24/7 by surgeons board certified in surgery and critical care. Dr. Levine said Ashlyn’s trauma could have been a lot worse had she not been taken to Community Regional.
“She was exceedingly lucky it did not affect her eye at all. She had multiple bone fragments which we were able to elevate and reconstruct so she would look normal and not have a divet or any cosmetic defect,” added Dr. Levine.
The young equestrian suffered a minimal brain injury and a contusion which Dr. Levine was able to treat with surgery.
Nicole commented, “Had she not gone there, it would have been a different story. I really, trauma, that is the place to go, the time frame, the efficiency, and how fast she got into surgery, and how fast he was able to stop the bleed played a big part in how fast she was able to recover.”
Ashlyn was discharged from the intensive care unit five days after her surgery and recovered at home. Today, she has a small scar on her forehead that her doctors say will likely fade.
“As soon as Dr. Levine came out of surgery and he started just talking about her scar, he was like, so she’s gonna have a scar and I said wait, wait, wait but she’s gonna be okay? He started talking about scars, I said scars were like, that was furthest thing from my mind was worrying about scars,” said Nicole.
Dr. Levine ended, “We’re very fortunate in that the hospital has it’s own neuro surgical operating room, nurses, and team.”
The Ainger Family said they are forever grateful for the life-saving efforts made by the medical team at Community Regional.