The Pokuta Family
Imagine a parent’s worst nightmare coming true. The phone rings and the person tells you that your daughter was in a severe car accident. The only news conveyed was that it was bad… really bad. She had to be cut out of the wreckage and helicopter evacuated to the hospital. To make things worse, if that’s possible, you are out of town on business 3 ½ hours away and it is 10:30 at night.
Well, that’s what happened to us 4 years ago.
So what did I do? I jumped in the car and drove as fast as I could. To add insult to injury there was a severe thunderstorm all the way back, which made driving with tears in my eyes unimportant because I couldn’t see a thing anyway. I prayed and asked God to take me- put me in a ditch and let Lauren live. This was the longest drive of my life. Not knowing is the worst as your mind just wanders and thinks of the most horrific scenario. Unfortunately when I finally arrived in South Bend at the hospital the most horrific scenario that played through my mind was true. Lauren was in a coma and sustained a traumatic brain injury in the car accident. She was in the emergency room where the doctor had just finished inserting a brain pressure monitor in her skull. I would not wish this memory on my worst enemy. My wife looked so tired and helpless as she had already been there for 3 hours. The hospital Chaplin came to us at once and we said last rights for Lauren. The prognosis was not good.
Once the emergency room was finished with Lauren she was transferred upstairs to the ICU. By now it was around 4 am. The Neurosurgeon comes in at 6 am and that was when we would find out the severity of the injuries. Tonja and I said good night to Lauren as they were hooking her up to life support. We went out into the waiting room. We were exhausted & felt so alone. It is so quiet there at that time of the morning. We were in total shock. We lay down on the cold waiting room furniture- No blankets or pillows. Basically laid there like Zombies watching the time slowly tick by until 6 am. We went into the ICU and waited for the doctor to arrive. Nothing can prepare a parent for walking into a room and seeing their teenaged daughter laying in a bed in a coma and on life support.
After the meeting with the doctor we walked out of Lauren’s room to go get something to drink. As we walked out there was a woman standing there holding a clip-board. Immediately I assumed it was someone wanting insurance information and I was thinking to myself how this couldn’t be worse timing. As we neared her she says in a quiet voice – “Mr. and Mrs. Pokuta, I am so sorry to hear of your tragedy. How would you like a place to rest? You see, I am with the Ronald McDonald House and we have a room you can use.” I thought I was dreaming or delirious. Is this is an Angel? With a kind and gentle smile she said “Come with me, it’s just up one floor so you can stay close to your daughter.”
Nobody can imagine the gratitude we felt. We stayed there for nearly a month. What a Blessing! We are so proud to be associated with this organization in any way possible. RMHC you rock! Thank You.
Michael, Tonja, and Lauren Pokuta
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Every day Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Michiana (RMHC®) serves the families of critically ill and injured children at Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend.