By Kristina Houck
Just a few weeks ago, Carmel Valley teenager Alex Hargis was in a coma. He’s now talking, walking and rehabbing so that he can come home for the holidays.
“He’s had a miraculous recovery,” said Alex’s mother, Paige Hargis. “He’s doing really well.”
An eighth grader at Carmel Valley Middle School, Alex was skateboarding without a helmet in front of his house on Sept. 19 when he fell and hit the back right side of his head, the same spot where we was injured as an infant and had multiple surgeries. He was knocked unconscious and suffered a seizure, which caused him to repeatedly hit his head on the street.
A CT scan showed Alex suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. Doctors placed him in a medically-induced coma to minimize swelling. For weeks, he remained in a coma in the intensive care unit at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.
On Oct. 14, with his great aunt by his bedside, Alex opened his eyes. He said, “I love you.”
“He started waking up,” said Hargis, who was having lunch with her husband, Dave, when Alex woke up. “Before we knew it, he started talking and then he started walking.”
The 13-year-old is now participating in the hospital’s intensive in-patient rehabilitation program. He does four hours of physical, occupational and speech therapy, in addition to schoolwork, every day, Hargis said.
He has recently transitioned from walking with a walker to walking with a cane. His “funny personality” is also back, Hargis added.
“He’s been astounding the doctors and all the different therapists on how quickly he’s coming back,” Hargis said. “It’s extremely remarkable. The doctors are very impressed with his work ethic and tenacity.”
For weeks, doctors didn’t know whether Alex would wake up or not. But Alex’s family, friends and community members didn’t give up.
“They didn’t know. They couldn’t tell us,” Hargis said. “It was really scary, but we just kept praying and believing.”
Dozens of family, friends and community members gathered to pray for Alex and raise awareness about helmet safety during a candlelight vigil on Oct. 2 at a park across the street from Pacific Sports Resort in Carmel Valley.
From organizing the vigil, to filling Alex’s room with cards and posters, Hargis said she is very thankful for the community’s support.
“It’s really been uplifting to have so many people care about us and help us,” Hargis said. “It’s really meant a lot to us, and I really feel it’s played a very large part in his rapid recovery.
“We’re incredibly grateful to the community and we’re looking forward to giving back to Carmel Valley.”
Hargis and her family plan to promote helmet safety and reach out to skateboard manufacturers to ask them to encourage pro skaters to set an example and wear safety gear. For now, however, they are concentrating on getting Alex home for Thanksgiving.
“He’s very anxious and motivated to get back home. He works extremely hard in all of his therapy,” Hargis said. “He’s really inspired me how he’s attacking rehab like a warrior.”
For more information about Alex, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/alexhargis.