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From a Coma to College

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Healthwire Update: Shepherd Center

Former Shepherd Center brain injury patient experiences a remarkable recovery, plans his future as a physician.

By Bill Sanders

Gabriel Rodriguez is finishing college and plans to go to medical school and become an orthopedic oncologist. When you”ve beaten the kind of odds Gabriel has, it”s hard to find someone who doubts that in five years or so, he”ll be Dr. Rodriguez.

What”s so special about 23-year-old Gabriel of Lilburn, Ga.?

He fought to survive a 2005 automobile accident caused by another vehicle that T-boned the car in which Gabriel was a passenger. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and multiple injuries to his legs. Gabriel spent more than three months in a coma and underwent more surgeries than he can remember. Then he completed months of rehabilitation at Shepherd Center.

And his recovery has been remarkable, says Gerald Bilsky, M.D., his physician at Shepherd Center.

But the road to get there was long. The months following the accident were nothing short of terrifying for Gabriel”s mom, Lucila Tellado, and the rest of his family.

“No one thought he had much of a chance,”# Lucila recalls, fighting back tears even now, knowing what a good outcome Gabriel has had. “We got there (Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta) and didn”t know if he was alive or dead, and the next several months were very hard on us. But he”s a fighter.”#

He”s also a very smart young man.

Before his injury, Gabriel was a straight-A student at Parkview High School in metro Atlanta and he was preparing to major in biology at Georgia State University in the fall of 2005.

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