Camper Recovering from Harrowing Incident
The young Massachusetts girl who was injured when a tree fell on her family's tent during a storm about 10 days ago is doing well after having emergency surgery at Maine Medical Center (MMC) in Portland last week, Foster's Daily Democrat reported.
Emily Malewitz's condition was upgraded to "fair" on Tuesday morning (Aug. 17), she was sitting up and had been taken off a respirator Monday afternoon, according to Jason Cole, Lebanon's assistant rescue chief.
Emily and her three siblings, who are all 10 (they are quadruplets), and their parents were in their tent at Flat Rock Bridge Family Resort campground in Lebanon when a sudden thunderstorm hit. Winds blowing at 60 mph took down branches and trees including one that came down on the Malewitz family's tent and another that fell on their minivan. Rescue workers had to remove tree limbs in order to get access to the tent.
Emily was seriously injured and was transported to Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.H., where she was stabilized and then transported to MMC's trauma center.
The three other Malewitz children were treated at Frisbie Hospital for minor injuries and released.
Surgeons at MMC removed a stick approximately 10-12 inches long from Emily's body, Cole said. The stick was less than an inch from many vital organs, including her heart, according to Cole. Dozens of pieces of bark were also removed from her body.
Her condition was upgraded briefly last week to serious, but was later listed as critical again.
On Friday, Aug. 13, Emily underwent three hours of surgery to clean out the area that was affected. She was on a respirator and was still listed in critical condition, however, her family was advised that she should make a full recovery, but that it is likely to be a slow process.
The Malewitz family is from Millis, Mass., but have stayed in Portland to be with Emily.
In an e-mail sent to Lebanon Rescue members on Tuesday, Emily's mother, Kathleen, said her sister and brother are looking after the other three children.
Volunteers with the Lebanon Rescue Department are raising funds to help the family with the costs of staying in Maine with their daughter. Jason Cole said the rescue department had received over 100 calls from people offering assistance to the family, so they decided to establish the "Emily Fund."
As of Tuesday, the Rescue Department had collected more than $1,200 for the family. In addition, another $800 was raised at the Flat Rock Family Resort campground for the family over the weekend, bringing the total collected to more than $2,000 in just four days.
Rescue members visit the family regularly, offering assistance and support, Cole said. They are taking the donations to the family and hope to continue to help them, "so they can focus on Emily and her recovery and not worry about finances."
The medical costs are expected to be over $100,000, Cole said. The family does have insurance, but will still have expenses to cover and Emily's parents, Peter and Kathleen, may be out of work for a while.
The rescue department has received cards and donations from all over New England and New York, said Lebanon Rescue Chief Samantha J. Cole. "The family has been so appreciative of the support and we continue to pray for Emily's recovery," she said.
In her e-mail on Tuesday, Kathleen Malewitz wrote that her daughter "is now breathing on her own and able to speak with us. The doctors, nurses, and, yes, even Peter and I really had our doubts whether she would be able to breathe comfortably without the ventilator… Well, I am disappointed in myself for not giving Emily her credit due. She is so determined to get well. In fact, her first words out of her mouth were, "I want to go home.
"Emily has amazed all the medical staff here at Maine Medical and her own parents. She told us this morning, that today was the day she was going to get up and walk around … we shall see about that. Right now our goal today is to wean her off the pain medication," she wrote.
"I washed and brushed her hair today, put her hair in her infamous ponytail and saw my beautiful little girl as we all know and love her. This time last week I thought that would never happen! Emily asked if she could read through her cards today. She will soon see all your prayers, blessings and well wishes that you have all been feeling and were able to put on paper. Peter and I cannot thank you enough."
Anyone who wishes to make a donation may send it to: Lebanon Rescue Department; Attn: Emily Fund; 323 Depot Road; Lebanon, ME 04027. Checks may be made out to: Peter Malewitz or to Lebanon Rescue. Cash donations can be dropped off at Trains Quick Stop.
The Rescue Department has also made arrangements for secure online donations through PayPal at: www.lebanonrescue.com.