Cyclist Makes an Amazing Recovery After Being Hit Head-on by a Car

Determination and a team of talented caregivers help put Scripps patient John Miksa on path to recovery

Aug. 21, 2009, is a day John Miksa will never forget. It is the day he was struck by a car while on his bicycle.

John was hit head-on by a driver. The impact catapulted him through the air, and he landed on his back — causing significant trauma to his C-5 and C-6 vertebrae.

He was transferred by helicopter to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla’s level II trauma center. During that time, John was in and out of consciousness, but fully aware of his paralysis from the neck down.

“I may not have survived, if it wasn’t for the fast action and expertise of the first responders and the trauma staff at Scripps La Jolla,” recalls John.

Emergency surgery for ruptured and herniated disk

Upon arrival, emergency room physician Anthony Ferkich, MD, immediately realized the seriousness of John’s injuries and referred him to trauma surgeon Gail Tominaga, MD.

And, within five hours from the time he was struck, neurosurgeon Scott Leary, MD, was removing John’s ruptured and herniated disk and fusing his C5 and C6 vertebrae. This was the beginning of his recovery.

“My prognosis was less than one percent chance of making a full recovery. But, within hours after surgery, I showed signs of movement in my hands and feet,” John says. “By the fourth day, I was able to stand with a lot of assistance.”

Intensive therapy and rehabilitation

John was then transferred to Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas Rehabilitation Center on Aug. 28, where he continued intensive therapy.

To his delight, he was discharged on Sept. 11, 2009, and walked out of the Scripps Encinitas Rehabilitation Center without assistance.

Thankful perspective toward Scripps caregivers

Following his discharge, Miksa began a crusade of thanking every single person — from the paramedics, to the nurses, to the doctors, to hospital administrators — who played a role in his miraculous recovery.

Miksa “hunted people down like dogs” and managed to meet with just about every care provider who touched his life at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas.

All told, 115 care providers were personally thanked and presented with a polo shirt embroidered with the words “John’s team” on the sleeve and “Part of a Miracle” on the front.

“My world changed in the blink of an eye,” says John. “I’m thankful for the physicians, nurses, and staff at Scripps La Jolla and Scripps Encinitas for saving my life and starting me on my path to a full recovery.”