Press Release - November 28, 2005

Sierra Stephens
Miracle Child

Each year a ‘Miracle Child’ representing the Children’s Miracle Network at Trinity Mother Frances Health System is selected to help light the Christmas tree during the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony for Tyler and Smith County. ‘Miracle Children’ are those like little Sierra Stephens who have battled a serious illness or medical trauma.

Four-year old Sierra Stephens and her father Brian were returning from a trip to Dallas in the rain when their pick-up truck was involved in a head-on collision on the Interstate. Another driver lost control of her vehicle, hydroplaned and slammed into the Stephens’ truck. Brian and Sierra were taken by ambulance to the Emergency Care Center at Mother Frances Hospital.

“Sierra was so quiet and subdued at first that we didn’t feel that she had anything wrong,” says her mother, Cheri. Dr. Robert Ellis, trauma surgeon, assessed Sierra’s injuries and helped stabilize the child. Sierra sustained a Grade III liver laceration and was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. After three days of close observation and follow-up diagnostic tests, Sierra was moved to the Children’s Center at Mother Frances Hospital.

According to Luis Fernandez, MD, Chief of Trauma Services, Mother Frances Hospital, “Liver injury occurs more easily in children than in adults because the ribs are more flexible, allowing force to be transmitted to the liver. In a crash, if a small child uses a safety belt alone, abdominal injuries can occur. A booster seat should be used until children are big enough to fit in an adult safety belt. Booster seats raise a child up in the seat so that the safety belt fits correctly, better protecting the child from crash and safety belt injury.”

Sierra continues to delight her doctors and her parents with her progress. According to Dr. Fernandez, “Sierra is a true miracle in every sense of the word. She overcame a tremendous life-threatening injury and will go on to live a full and happy life.”

Sierra Stephens is the 2006 Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Child. Although her activities are limited for the next six months, she is happy to be home with her sisters and playing with her favorite Barbie dolls.