Back Station Hill Nurture Team influences birth of a similar ministry in Texas after tragic accident
August 20th, 2012
Written by Diane Woerner
For some families, the crisis comes on quickly. For others, their trials are long and drawn out. For the Saffell family in Prosper, Texas, it was both.
In July of 2010, 15-year-old Morgan was riding with her friends in a 4-wheeler through a field of tall grass. Suddenly, the vehicle hit a small ditch, and Morgan was thrown up against the roll-bar, then flipped out the back into the ditch.
After a few moments of frantic searching, her friends found her lying there and barely conscious. The boy who’d been driving wasn’t hurt, so he carried her to a nearby house, they called 9-1-1, and she was taken to the emergency room at the nearest hospital.
While Morgan had several minor injuries, the one that caused the most concern was a shattering of the suborbital bone below her right eye. But the examining physician eventually decided to release her, telling them she’d need surgery to repair the bone once the swelling went down. He referred them to a surgeon, but never mentioned following up with a physician.
The next week, the surgeon said she was “lucky” and he could repair the orbit without plates or screws. In her follow-up two weeks later, he held up five fingers, she told him there were five, and he dismissed her as being well on her way to recovery.
In all of this, none of the doctors seemed concerned that Morgan had also suffered a concussion in the accident. But her mom Kelly and her dad Aron weren’t so sure.
As a paramedic, Aron knows concussions can bring lingering damage. Kelly also called her mother, Kathy Fambro, who’s a Station Hill member and speech pathologist with some medical training. She agreed that post-concussive syndrome was something they needed to watch for.
At first, Morgan seemed fine. A sophomore in high school, her primary love was volleyball. She began the fall practices with plenty of enthusiasm. But, for some reason, she wasn’t the star player she used to be. In fact, she was getting hit in the head with the ball too many times for it to be accidental.
In the classroom, there were problems as well. She began to struggle with reading and multiplying, somehow unable to concentrate on her schoolwork. Her normal straight A’s began to slip.
Concerned, Kelly decided to consult her personal ophthalmologist.
You see, when Kelly was pregnant with Morgan she’d developed a strange problem with her eyes that was diagnosed as blepharospasm. Essentially, the muscles around her eyes would contract, causing the eyes to close. It was a genetic disorder that was treated partially with botox injections, but it prevented Kelly from continuing her work as a CPA and she was told she should never drive more than two miles from home.
A visit to this ophthalmologist confirmed Kelly’s concerns. Morgan had no peripheral vision. She was also having trouble focusing—the words seemed to dance around the page. These and other vision problems were beginning to create frequent nausea as well.
By December, Morgan developed severe migraine headaches. One of these, which doctors labeled a “hemiplegic migraine,” put her in the hospital for five days. It became clear that her normal school situation would have to change.
After searching, they found a special therapy center in Irving, Texas, called the Centre for Neuro Skills (CNS), to which Morgan was admitted. They also were able to set her up with a homebound tutor.
However, her therapy represented a new challenge, since Irving is about 40 miles from Prosper—well outside of Kelly’s permitted driving range. But Kelly was determined to help her daughter, so for 10 months she drove through the intimidating Dallas traffic to take Morgan to therapy.
By this time, Morgan could only walk using a walker. Finally, a pediatric neurologist determined that she’d suffered a stroke as a result of that particularly intense migraine, which actually caused her to lose the use of the left side of her body.
As the months went by, Kelly faithfully sought out different treatments, and eventually Morgan began to improve. Botox injections in her arm and leg allowed much of her mobility to return. Special glasses improved her peripheral vision and ability to focus. She was transferred to a rehab facility much closer to home. And by the time her senior year began, she was actually able to run.
But the toll on Morgan was more than just physical. As a result of her extended disabilities, many of her close friends moved on to other friendships. She also had a lot to make up with her schooling. So, once again, Kelly did the research and finally got Morgan admitted to a Christian school.
At the time of her accident, Morgan’s family attended a large church in Prosper. Shortly after the accident, Kelly went to the church leadership to see if they might help somehow with the severe mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial strain that Morgan’s accident was placing on the whole family. To Kelly’s great dismay, the church offered her no support.
However, word of Morgan’s situation reached Station Hill Church. Her Papa and Nana, Harold and Kathy Fambro, are members of the Reid LIFE Group. Dozens of people were soon praying for their family.
LIFE Group member Susan Babb rallied the Nurture Team’s card-writing volunteers, and a steady stream of encouraging thoughts and scripture travelled from Tennessee to Texas to warm the hearts of a young girl and her parents over the months. When Morgan turned 16, they sent her birthday cards as well.
Meanwhile, Morgan’s family found a new church to attend, one that was committed to serving its members. It occurred to Kelly that their church could also build a team to ensure that no one who needed ministry was overlooked. She discussed the idea with her pastor and he agreed.
Now, the Station Hill Nurture Team has a new daughter, the “Prayer and Care Team” in Prosper, Texas. Kelly and Morgan started by sending cards to two people they knew could use the encouragement. Then they found two more. Slowly, the “newborn” began to grow. And Morgan’s younger sister, Cory, is also getting involved.
Kelly said, “I was struggling to find the right scripture for a teen girl who suffers from depression. When I mentioned my problem to Cory, she pulled out her phone, hit a button, and began reading the scriptures she uses to help through her own anxieties. Together, we found just the right verses.”
When the small groups and Women’s Bible Study at the Saffell’s church start up this fall, the “Prayer and Care” ministry will also be presented to the leadership staff and other church members. Kelly and Morgan pray it will result in the changed lives of many families as they too receive tangible spiritual, emotional, and practical support when trials and suffering come their way.