Doctors said Dominique Landreville wouldn’t make it.
The 18-year-old Canyon Del Oro graduate had a different plan.
“She’s stubborn,” her father, James, said as he perused several photos on the wall of the apartment where he and his wife, Karena, continue to oversee Dominique’s recovery.
She’s hiking in one photo. She’s at Times Square in another. She’s graduating high school. She’s jet skiing. But in all of them, she’s surrounded by people that love her.
That part hasn’t changed.
On the night of Nov. 6, Dominique, called “Nikki” for short, was walking along the side of the road on her way home from her job at Baggins when a distracted driver hit her at nearly 50 miles per hour.
Her injuries, many of which were inflicted to her skull, were so extreme that doctors at University Medical Center didn’t have much hope.
“It’s the kind of thing as a father you never want to see happen to your daughter,” James said tearfully. “It didn’t even look like her. It was just a body there.”
But after five weeks of intensive hospital care, Nikki beat the odds.
Along with her innate persistence, doctors said a crack in her skull allowing a blood release was responsible for saving her life at the scene of the accident.
“If she would’ve been hit just a little bit less, she would have been dead,” said James.
Even after surviving her critical injuries, Nikki contracted pneumonia during her hospital stay, which is common when being placed on a ventilator. She also became infected with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE).
Given her state, doctors expected either the pneumonia or the VRE to kill her. But she again prevailed.
And after doctors said she was fit for release, she continues to fight now under the supervision of her family and friends. Her progress is gradually becoming noticeable.
According to the Glasgow Coma Scale, Nikki is now between levels two and three, meaning she opens her eyes in response to pain, and has limited motor and verbal abilities.
The goal is to get her to a level seven, which is a full recovery. James and Karena expect that to take a year and a half to two years.
The roller coaster of emotions has taken its accumulative toll on the Landrevilles and others caring for her. Sleep is a thing of the past. Money is tight, as Karena and James were forced to rent out a second apartment to care for Nikki. Medical bills are bound to be hefty, extending beyond what insurance covers.
“Our love for her. That’s what keeps us going,” said Nikki’s mother Karena. “We’ve been asked why we wanted to take her home and care for her. Who wouldn’t want to take care of their baby?”
And between loved ones dividing the time and responsibilities, they’ve done exactly that.
Nikki was taken home the day before Thanksgiving. Friends and family surrounded her, counting life’s simple blessings, which have only been magnified after the tragic incident.
“You know what’s changed in me? I will never complain about one more thing in my life,” said James. “I have nothing to complain about. Nothing.”
The tragedy has also created deeper empathy.
“I used to get sad when I’d hear about others’ accidents like this,” said Karena. “Now, I cry. It hurts, because you know the pain those people are going through.”
Nikki was planning on attending the Cortiva Institute for massage therapy next summer.
She was scheduled to marry her fiancé next April. The ring was destroyed in the accident.
But beyond the delayed plans and broken possessions, hope, like Nikki, remains alive.
How to Help
The Landrevilles are asking for the public’s help in paying for medical expenses. They hope to send Nikki to Craig Hospital, a spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury center in Colorado. They also need a wheelchair-accessible van for transportation purposes. Donations can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/DominiquesFund. All funds collected will be used toward Nikki’s medical expenses.
For donation-related questions, call James at 869-8821.