On August 12, Brian Blatchford was in a car accident on a rural county road near his home in Iron Station, North Carolina. He was found several hours after the accident and rescued with the jaws of life. So far he has undergone two major surgeries to stabilize his C6-C7 vertebrae and to release pressure on the spinal cord and blood vessels to the brain. He is in ICU at CMC Main in Charlotte and now breathing on his own, but he has no feeling from his chest down. The doctors have stated that he has a small chance of ever walking again and may not regain his fine motor skills.
Brian is married to Cecilia Bruno. They have two small children, Scott, 21 months and Chiara, 10 weeks.
Brian and Cecilia have a long road ahead of them. In addition to Brian's physical suffering, the accident has put this young family under tremendous financial strain because of his need for future surgeries and rehabilitation, his inability to work, and the need to make their home handicap accessible. First and foremost, we ask for prayers for a miracle that Brian will be able to use his hands and walk again. We also ask you to prayerfully consider donating to help this incredible family who has been such a beautiful witness of faith in suffering. They need our help.
Update #4 December 14, 2023
So much has unfolded since our last update! Here are some highlights: we've enjoyed family visits to the Atlanta zoo and aquarium, we're able to attend weekly Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King right down the street from Shepherd Center, and we attended Thanksgiving dinner hosted by a generous local family. Brian also received approval from his doctor to remove his neck collar, and he just submitted his order for his own customized manual chair.
The most significant development lately is Brian's transition from inpatient care to Shepherd's outpatient program. We've been provided a free apartment on the Shepherd campus, which is spacious enough for the four of us throughout his outpatient stay. While this transition has had its challenges, the blessings far outweigh them -- the greatest being our family's reunion. It's a welcome adjustment period before returning to home life.
Brian engages in daily therapy from 9 am to 4 pm, focusing on areas he has chosen with his care team, such as household chores, diaper changes for our babies, smoother transfers in and out of his chair, and enhanced therapy for fine motor skills and overall strength. A notable new addition to his therapies is Aquatics Therapy, where he works on standing, core strength, and hip function in the pool.
Currently, we anticipate a discharge date in December which will allow us to be home for Christmas, and we're very excited to return home.
The past four months have been overwhelming to say the least. However, we know that God has provided for us every step of the way -- Brian's acceptance into the Shepherd Center, the amazing Airbnb host who let us live at her property down the street from the hospital for our extended stay, the graciousness of my supervisors at the American Red Cross to allow me to work at the Atlanta Branch, the family resources and living spaces Shepherd has provided, the strangers who invited our family to their home, and so many more. We know that these blessings are the result of all of your prayers, and we cannot thank you enough.
We're grateful for your unwavering love and support; please continue to keep our family and Brian's healing in your prayers as we enter into the Advent season. Your support means the world to us and has brought us more comfort than we can express.
Cecilia and Brian
Update #3 October 18, 2023
As many of you may know from Brian’s CareBridge page, Brian recently underwent a third surgery on the back of his neck to stabilize the metal rods in his spine and correct several screws which had loosened since his initial surgeries in Charlotte. Thankfully, the surgery was as minimally invasive as possible, and Brian is recovering as well as can be expected. His incisions are healing nicely, and his staples come out on Tuesday this week. He will continue to be in a neck brace for the next 8-12 weeks as his neck recovers.
Before this third surgery, Brian was beginning to use a manual wheelchair, but returned to the power chair after this surgery due to the strain the manual wheelchair puts on his shoulders and neck. He hopes to be back in the manual chair next week. Brian’s care team is hopeful that his surgery will not set his overall rehab progress back, and they will work with him on other goals while he continues to recover. This week Brian will begin learning to transfer from a wheelchair into a car, and next week he is scheduled to begin transfers from the floor to his wheelchair and back. Although he continues to struggle with his fine motor skills and overall feeling, Brian is having more sensations in his legs, including various pressures and pain sensations. These could just be nerve pains, but please continue your prayers for his healing. We are always hopeful.
Brian also recently celebrated his 27th birthday with some of his family members from Charlotte. He is scheduled to remain in inpatient care at Shepherd Center until mid-November, and then he will be transferred to outpatient care. Shepherd Center provides on-campus apartment housing for their outpatient patients, where Brian will be able to live together with Cecilia and the little ones. Cecilia is currently living in an Airbnb near the hospital with their children and Mary Bruno, her mother. Cecilia returned to work last week — she is a nurse with the American Red Cross branch in Charlotte, and her supervisors have arranged for her to work out of the Atlanta branch while Brian is at Shepherd Center.
Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support. The Blatchford family has only gotten this far because of you, your generosity, and your prayers. Please continue to support them however you can.
Update #2 August 31, 2023
Since last week, we are thankful to share that Brian was accepted to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia, for his in-patient rehabilitation. The in-patient rehab process at Shepherd Center is about five weeks long, followed by subsequent months of out-patient care. Brian was transported by ambulance to Shepherd Center at the end of last week. Cecilia, Scottie, and Chiara joined him there. Everyone arrived safely, and the family is amazed at the care, attention, and community they have already encountered at Shepherd Center. There is peace in knowing this is definitely the right place for Brian. Thank you to all who prayed for his admittance to this facility.
One of the hallmarks of Shepherd’s unique approach to rehabilitation is ensuring family members are involved in patients’ rehabilitation, recovery, and support. As such, Shepherd provides on-campus family housing for family members at no cost for 30 days. Cecilia and the children are currently living in the on-campus apartments provided, and they are able to see and spend time with Brian every day when he is not in therapy. Although Brian has been at Shepherd Center for less than a week, he has begun physical and occupational therapy, and he is making strides.
While Brian and his family are in Atlanta, contractors and friends of the family are working hard together to make alterations to the Blatchford’s home so that it is more accessible for Brian when he returns. We humbly ask for everyone’s continued prayers as Brian begins rehabilitation and for the family while they are away from their home.
Update on Brian 08/21/2023 August 21, 2023
Brian is recovering from his surgeries and is still in the ICU. While he has some limited use of his arms and wrists, he still does not have feeling from his ribs down. He is expected to be discharged from the ICU soon. The next step is for Brian to go into an in-patient rehabilitation hospital. Thanks to so many prayers, we have just learned that Brian is clinically approved to be admitted into the Shepherd Center rehabilitation hospital in Atlanta, GA. Shepherd is a renowned rehab facility which specializes in spinal cord injuries like Brian’s. It is extremely difficult to be admitted to Shepherd, and we are thrilled to learn of his clinical acceptance, but this is only the first step. It is unclear if Shepherd has the bed space available to accept Brian quickly. The family is expecting an update from Shepherd on soon regarding their bed capacity.
Thank you for all the prayers and support so far — please continue to pray, especially for Brian’s timely admittance to the Shepherd Center. We will keep everyone updated.
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