Houstonian injured in Costa Rica returns home

November 29, 2010 9:45:12 PM PST
More than a month ago, Chad Swenson nearly died. He was whitewater rafting in Costa Rica when a tree limb fell and crushed part of his skull. And then he got stuck there, thousands of miles from home. After weeks of uncertainty and with the help of friends and family, Swenson and his wife are finally out of Costa Rica and back home.

On Monday, hospital staff and family were getting him settled into his room at Memorial Hermann Hospital. It's too early, his doctors say, to make a prediction, but his family says he's a fighter and his survival thus far is a miracle.

Coming home from vacation on a private jet would seem like a luxury, but for Swenson, this flight was a necessity and a long time coming.

"Everybody's come together because we love Chad," Candace Caspersen, a friend, said.

Thanks to an anonymous donor and community support, Swenson finally got the medical flight home from Costa Rica he needed. The careful crew loaded him into an ambulance on Monday afternoon for his trip to Memorial Hermann, where more friends and family were waiting.

"He looks good and we just are waiting to see what the next step is, just trying to be strong," said his wife, Eden Swenson.

Eden has been by his side non-stop for 35 days now -- ever since the second day of their vacation. They were whitewater rafting when a tree limb fell on Swenson's head severely injuring his skull, brain and face.

Just getting out of the rainforest was a major challenge.

"They flipped the raft upside down, cut the sides off, put him on it and duct taped him to it," Eden said.

It was 15 hours before Chad got to a neurosurgeon. Now four surgeries, five weeks and many prayers later he is finally at a hospital that specializes in head injuries.

"He will be evaluated over the next few days and it's long road and a lot of treatment ahead of him," Dr. Scott Shepard said.

His family is aware of that fact. Swenson remains in a coma so they celebrate any movement.

"He'll turn his head and he stretches," Eden said.

They let him know he's never alone.

"I say to him all the time Chad you're going to be fine; Heavenly Father is with you, you're going to be fine," said his mother, Sue Marsh.

Marsh said Chad has flipped his foot several times to answer questions.

Dr. Shepard said people with these kinds of head injuries are in the hospital for a long time. Family members are preparing for the long stay.

The flight to bring the 36-year-old Sugar Land resident home cost about $40,000. Anyone interested in donating to Chad's continued treatment can do so through the website ChadsTrust.com.


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