Staff, patient at Provo hospital buy new wheelchair for quadriplegic woman

Local News

PROVO, Utah (ABC4 News) – When Susan Child checked in to the Utah Valley Specialty Hospital six-weeks ago she never imagined she’d be leaving with a new power wheelchair that would give a new lease on life.  

25 years ago Susan Child was involved in a horrible car accident. 

“I didn’t have my seat belt on, the car flipped over and I flew out and broke my neck,” said Susan Child. 

Her accident forever changed her life and that of her 5 children, she was now a quadriplegic.  Her daughter Gloria Harris was only 7 years-old at the time.

“All of a sudden it wasn’t just mom taking care of us but we had to step up to do our part,” said Harris. 

“I had a manual chair and the kids pushed me around and as each one grew up the more responsibility on the ones that were left behind,” said Child.  “Life was not fun when you were the last kid at home with a mom in a wheelchair,” she joked. 

Six weeks ago she was admitted to Utah Valley Specialty Hospital for health issues.  That’s where she met occupational therapist Gordon Dever.  

“She’s always very positive, she’s fun to work with, just a lot of fun to talk to,” said Dever.

As they got to know one another Dever knew that he had to do something to try to help Child live a better life.

“I do home health with another patient and I was just telling him about some of her amazing stories, her kids pushing her in the wheelchair and him and his wife took a liking to her,” he said.  “Even without knowing her.  I went back a week later to their home and they offered to buy her a chair.”

One problem, a power wheelchair costs upwards of $30,000, the generous donor was willing to pay the full amount.  But Dever wanted to see if he could find something more affordable.  He went online and found a brand new chair for sale.  Its previous owner had passed away only a month after owning it and the family was asking for $4,000 for the chair.  Dever knew that was the one they had to get and the donor put up the money for the chair.  

“Everything I know about them is they’re always doing good for other people and very humble about that too,” said Dever about the donor who paid for the chair and wished to remain anonymous.  “They’re just good people, they help a lot of people, they just are always looking for ways to help others.”

Dever says Child was hesitant at first.

“New things scare her so the chair was, when she first saw the chair like she offered me take it home, but once she overcame these anxious moments for something new she just enjoys it more and more.  It’s been a good experience working with her,” he said.  

“It makes me a little nervous, but I’m trying really hard not to be afraid,” said Child.  “It is very scary, I’m afraid that I’m gonna get stuck somewhere and nobody will be able to help me.  When I had a manual chair somebody was pushing me and there was always somebody with me.”

For the last 2 days she has been working with Dever to grow accustom to her new chair.  It hasn’t been easy.  She says backing up is difficult, because the chair doesn’t come with a horn, and that she tends to “ricochet” off the walls.  

But, riding along the street and sidewalk this morning with her granddaughter sitting on her lap she looked like she had been doing it for years.  

“I’m independent now,” said Child.  “It was very kind of them to offer to help me because I think there are so many other people that need help more than me.  So, nobody’s ever helped me like this before so it was very kind,” she said.  

“With all the bad things that are happening, that there are good people like Gordon and this couple who didn’t even know her and wanted to reach out and do something nice,” said Harris.  “This is even more awesome because now she can walk along with us and kinda be more independent and kinda help take care of my family now and she can kinda be grandma and take care of herself.”

“It’s nice to see her be independent, and just to see her with her grandkids and have that freedom as she just everyday progresses.  She just feels more and more comfortable in the chair and she’ll have a more fulfilling life in the chair,” said Dever. 

Child is set to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday.  Not only will her new wheelchair allow her to be more mobile and independent but it will allow her to do her pressure releases so that she doesn’t wind up in the hospital with pressure sores again.  

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