Trauma ICU Victim Returns to Meet and Thank Doctors

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COLUMBIA -  A former patient returned back to the Trauma and Surgical Intensive Care Unit at University Hospital Wednesday afternoon to show his gratitude to the team who saved his life.

MU student Nathan Roberts was walking home from the bars on the night of February 22 when he walked into the path of a car turning onto College Avenue.

He was taken straight to the Trauma and Surgical ICU in critical condition.

"He required mechanical ventilation, he couldn't breathe on his own, he had a severe injury to his brain, and he had broken a large number of very large bones in his body, which altered his blood pressure and required him to receive some blood products," Trauma Surgeon Dr. Stephen Barnes said.

After undergoing many operations and spending 11 days in the ICU at University Hospital, he was released to go elsewhere. 

"He got to the point that he wasn't needing any monitors, he was stable enough from a medical standpoint that they deemed him ready to be rehabbed," Nathan's mother Gina Spengel said.

Roberts then went to Rusk Rehabilitation Center for six weeks before going back to his home in Kansas City on April 17.

When Roberts left University Hospital he was unable to follow commands, walk or do simple tasks such as wipe his nose and scratch his ears. He returned back to the Trauma and Surgical Intensive Care Unit today, walking with a walker and being able to carry on a complete conversation.

He didn't remember any of his time spent at the hospital so coming back he not only thanked the doctors and nurses that worked on him but also met them for the first time. 

"Anything I can do to give back to the nurses and doctors and all the people that were helping me, I'm happy to let them see their work is not in vain," Roberts said.

"I'll never be able to thank them properly," Spengel said.

Roberts is on hold from rehab until his leg heals but will start up with rehab again soon. He said he most looks forward to being able to walk without a walker.