Life Flight Patient Reconnects with Life-saving Flight Paramedic
Kimberley Pena and her daughter, Haylie Martin, recently reconnected with the Life Flight crew that responded to Martin’s shooting in 2012, including Life Flight paramedic Jeffery Cobb, who inspired them to believe when all else seemed hopeless.
Haylie Martin wasn’t expected to survive the short flight to the hospital, much less live long enough to recover from a deadly gunshot wound to her head.
But four years after she was airlifted by Memorial Hermann Life Flight® to Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute, Martin, now 18, is giving thanks to the dedicated and hard-working Life Flight crew who helped save her life.
Martin and her mother, Kimberley Pena, recently trekked more than 70 miles from their small hometown of Tarkington north of Houston to a barbecue cook-off and music festival in League City to reconnect with the Life Flight crew that responded to Martin’s shooting in 2012.
While the pair was excited to meet all the pilots and nurses who work for Life Flight, there was one person in particular Martin and her mother wanted to see: Jeffery Cobb, the man who inspired them to believe when all else seemed hopeless.
“It was him stopping by to check on Haylie that gave us more hope than ever,” said Pena. “It was Jeffery who gave us a real sense of belief that a miracle could happen and it did!”
Pena was so eager to reconnect with Cobb, a Life Flight paramedic on the helicopter that flew Martin to the hospital, she sought him out on Facebook and decided to meet up with him in person when she found out that he and other members of the Life Flight crew would be participating in the League City cook-off.
Life Flight pilots, nurses and paramedics are called upon to respond to the most traumatic and devastating injuries, but Martin’s case was particularly difficult for the crew.
“We were pretty overwhelmed by the call due to the circumstances,” said Cobb. “The injury was significant and we didn’t think she would make it until she got to the hospital, much less recover.”
But Martin defied all odds, fighting for her life even though her prognosis seemed grim. Cobb said he was awestruck by the girl’s strength when he stopped by her room in the Intensive Care Unit just a few days after she was brought in.
Inspired by her survival, Cobb told Martin’s mother about then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona congresswoman who had been able to recover from a gunshot wound to the head after receiving treatment at Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute at the Texas Medical Center and then at TIRR Memorial Hermann.
If Giffords could do it, so could Martin, Cobb told her.
Martin not only survived a difficult and complicated brain surgery, but within weeks of her injury, she opened her eyes and looked at her mother. Not long after that, she was discharged into rehabilitation to start the long process toward recovery. Today, Martin is able to read, write and operate a tablet, and has plans to graduate from high school next year.
“Haylie is doing great!” said Pena. “Over the years, I have often thought about Jeffery and the hope he brought to us that day in the ICU, and I wanted him to have the opportunity to see her outside of the hospital. Looking at her today and the prognosis she got back in 2012, you would never know she was the same girl.”