Laila looks back at the spot where the porch swing once hung before it broke, causing her brain injury.
(WAB NEWS) – After nearly losing her life in a porch swing accident, Lalia Susini is committed to helping other injured and sick children overcome the obstacles they face.
The 12-year-old from Los Angeles had been pursuing a career in acting and fashion, but now has her mind set on becoming a doctor, the result of a terrible accident that led to several brain surgeries.RELATED
“I thought I was going to die,” Susini, who recently starred in ABC’s “Station 19,” told CNN. “I just had no idea what happened.”
Over a year ago, an eyebolt holding the bungee cord of the swing detached from the porch ceiling and pierced Lalia’s skull.
“It started out as a cute all-American moment, her grandfather was pushing her,” said her mother, Stacey Susini. “The next thing you know, there is blood everywhere and I thought I was going to lose my daughter.”
Los Angeles Fire Department crews discovered that Lalia had suffered a stroke, was unconscious and had lost movement on the left side of her body.
Members of Station 97 helped her regain consciousness and rushed her to Cedars Sinai Hospital.
Stacey Susini recalls that her daughter underwent two blood transfusions before the doctors could operate because Lalia was bleeding a lot.
“That projectile went through his skull and into an area of the brain that is responsible for voluntary motor control,” said Dr. Moise Danielpour, a neurosurgeon in Cedars’ department of pediatrics.
“He couldn’t move one side of his body with an open wound. Timing was critical.”
Dr. Danielpour explained that the doctors and nurses fought to save Lalia’s life while preserving as much of Lalia’s damaged brain as possible.
“The life of this beautiful girl was in our hands and there was no room for error,” said Danielpour.
Miraculously, Lalia survived the nearly five-hour operation.
Inspired to give back
More than a year later, Laila’s left arm is still paralyzed.
But she embraces extensive physical therapy, and has returned to acting, in addition to doing other normal kid things, like riding her bike, playing soccer, running on the track, and chasing her three siblings at their Hollywood home. Hills.
“I’m doing everything I can to get back to all that,” Lalia said. “Some would think that this (his injuries) is so bad that my life is ruined, but you have to be positive.”
The optimistic attitude prompted her to help other pediatric patients by creating a line of comfortable and fashionable clothing for children living with medical devices.
Laila had already been designing clothes before the accident with her best friend under the LATE Clothing LA brand. But her accident inspired her to focus on sick and injured children as well.
“We donate clothing to children who have an arm cast, PICC catheters or feeding tubes in their arms, anything that requires modification of clothing,” Lalia said. The PICC line stands for “peripherally inserted central catheter” and is used to administer intravenous fluids.
The seventh grader said that during her recovery she saw how she and other children would have benefited from any comfortable clothing that had openings for those lines or casts.
One of those children was his friend Jack Boulas, who also survived a massive brain injury and a heart attack.
Six-year-old Jack suffers from a rare catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia that causes an irregular heartbeat.
“Many families, children and parents live in isolation in a pediatric hospital,” said Jack’s father, Matt Boulas.
“I thank Lalia for the kindness she has shown Jack. He always talks about her, he adores her.”
“The first thing he says is ‘hide’ when he sees her, because he likes to play hide and seek with her.”
Lalia’s pediatric clothing line is just getting started with a handful of donated items.
But clothes are just the beginning, Laila says. She also wants to follow her doctor’s footsteps into the operating room and one day become a pediatric neurosurgeon.
She is an outstanding student and is confident that she can do it. But for now, Laila is taking one day at a time.
“It’s wonderful when you can have an impact on the life of a young person,” Danielpour said.