Jiliann’s Story

Problem: Life-threatening injuries from an auto accident
Result: Compassionate care that made a difference in her recovery

At 33 years old and 7 months pregnant, the last thing on Jiliann’s mind was dealing with a hospital stay earlier than her due date. But in the blink of an eye, she was in UMC Trauma recovering from serious injuries from an auto accident on Easter Sunday of 2016.

When Jiliann arrived at UMC, Thomas L. Vater, D.O. was at her side for the initial surgery. With 17 broken bones, Jiliann underwent a microdiscectomy, a laminectomy of L4, L5, and S1, and a custom clavicle surgery where a metal plate and pin were placed into her shoulder. Between the initial day in trauma and late June, Jiliann would have 18 procedures done by Dr. Vater in order to help correct her injuries.

Throughout the whole process, Dr. Vater was focused on making sure she understood the details of her recovery. Jiliann states, “Dr. Vater always had the best bedside manner. He spent extra time thoroughly explaining every single thing I had wrong and explained in detail every procedure we would be having.” While the surgeries took their toll on Jiliann’s body, she says that Dr. Vater also did all that he could to keep the damage minimal. By redoing a few of the surgeries on her arm and shoulder, he was able to keep the scars less visible than they would be otherwise.

Due to the severity of her injuries, Jiliann was aware that her recovery time would be lengthy, but she says that Dr. Vater has helped that process. “With the amazing care I’ve received and the constant physical and occupational therapy, I have exceeded the expectations of everyone with my recovery,” Jiliann stated. “Without the procedures and surgeries, and support from him and his team, I know I would not be where I am today.”

Throughout the entire process, Jiliann made it clear that she has felt cared for in more ways than one. “During the trauma surgery, I was seven months pregnant. We lost my beautiful angel that night. Dr. Vater and his team are so compassionate and sensitive to that topic. They do everything to make me feel they truly care,” she says. “Right before my last surgery, Dr. Vater brought me a fossilized shark tooth. He handed me that shark tooth and said I’m stronger than any shark out there. He’s a very special doctor to me.”

As Jiliann continues to make a recovery, she says that Dr. Vater has helped to save her life and provide her with a feeling of normalcy. “I am so forever thankful that I had Dr. Vater and his team as a part of my life and during my recovery.”