A 27-year-old Canadian nurse came to her own brave and painful rescue after a terrible car crash left her trapped in her vehicle for 14 hours.
Stacie Reis, of British Columbia, Canada, was nearing the end of a long drive home after visiting her sick grandpa when her car crashed 40 feet down a steep cliff not visible from the highway. She awoke in her vehicle with no memory of how the accident occurred, but realized her totaled car was upside down and her legs and feet were both twisted towards her left knee.
A neo-natal intensive care unit nurse at the University Hospital of Northern BC, Reis' medical instincts quickly kicked into gear and she knew she had to do something.
"I noticed my feet were real broken," she recently told Canada's Global News while recovering in her hospital bed in Vancouver. "They were twisted to the side. My little nurse brain was like, you’ve got to straighten those up because you’re going to … lose your blood supply, and then you’re going to lose your legs."
And that's exactly what she did. Reis proceeded to lift her broken legs and physically straighten out the bones herself, telling local paper the Prince George Citizen it was "quite painful to do."
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She continued waiting for rescue through the night, in and out of sleep, until just after 8 a.m. the following day when she heard the familiar voices of her friends and family shouting her name. They had been driving up and down the highway looking for her. Rescuers trekked to Reis, broke the car windshield and pulled her safely up to the road on a stretcher.
Doctors later told Reis that her decision to set her own legs likely saved her from having them amputated. But her lower limbs were not the extent of her injuries, which also included a broken sternum, ribs, and pelvis, in addition to bruising to her heart and lungs, Global News reported.
It's been six weeks since the crash, and Reis has now had five surgeries—according to a GoFundMe fundraising page set up by coworker Colleen Rea—including a muscle and skin graft to her right foot. Her friend set up the page to help collect money to go towards her "beautiful" and "bubbly" friend's many medical costs. The page has raised more than $17,000.
It will likely be a year before Reis will use her legs again, according to the news outlets, but she has kept a positive outlook every step of the way.
"Smelling fresh air, even eating food after the accident—it's like I'm a baby, it's like eating it for the first time," Reis told the Prince George Citizen. "You sure gain perspective when you've been in a life threatening accident."