Brittany Springer likes to be prepared. Living on a farm, she knows that accidents can happen, so she makes sure to have emergency plans in place for a variety of scenarios.
But nothing could have prepared her for the severe injury her daughter would sustain on Aug. 22, 2016.
An unforeseen accident
It was a day like any other day. Five-year-old Savhannah was following her father, Stephen, around the farm, eager to help him out with chores. Up next was cutting the hay. She trailed him to the tractor, but he wasn’t aware that the gear was in reverse when he started up the machine.
The tractor kicked back. The hitch struck Savhannah. It ripped open her stomach from her chest down to the top of her left leg. Stephen immediately rushed to her side.
“He had to put her insides back in her before he could pick her up,” Brittany recalled. “He came running to barn where I was. I grabbed her and said, ‘You call 911. We’re going to start driving.’”
The Springers live in a rural area near Henning and knew time was precious, so after calling 911, they grabbed their other young children, Gracie and Peter, and raced away to meet the ambulance.
“We literally maxed out the speed that our van would go,” Brittany said. “Henning police had been following us and trying to catch us.”
They met the Tri-County Health Care ambulance just outside of Deer Creek and handed Savhannah over to Renee Miller and Cole Lugert, paramedics. Savhannah’s wounds were so severe that they called for more help before transporting her to the hospital.
“Then it was a flurry,” Brittany said.“We got to hospital. They took her in. I was, I guess, checking in. You don’t realize how hard it is to remember phone numbers or addresses under so much stress.”
The emergency room was a whirlwind of activity as countless medical personnel fought to stabilize Savhannah’s tiny body.
The tractor hitch had cut into her stomach and colon and broken her pelvis and collarbone. Veins and arteries were severed in her left leg, resulting in the most blood loss. Her body began to go into shock, which made her legs swell and cut off the circulation. Emergency department staff made full-length cuts on both thighs and both calves to relieve the pressure.
They got her stable enough to transport her to Hennepin County Medical Center where a team of surgeons – including trauma, vascular, orthopedic and pediatric – set to work. The surgeons repaired the damage as best as they could, using mesh to replace the tissue that had been lost to close her wounds.
Starting to heal
Savhannah stayed for one month in the intensive care unit. Stephen needed to work during that time, so Brittany stayed with Savhannah and her siblings.
When Savhannah finally got to go home, the recovery process began. It has been a long and difficult road. Along with hundreds of hours of physical therapy, she has had 21 surgeries and is due to have another in the next couple months.
“It’s one of those things that you wish it was over but it probably won’t ever be,” Brittany said.
Savhannah’s legs have been the slowest to heal. The bottom half of her right leg is noticeably thinner than the other, and her foot turns inward. Brittany described Savhannah as being their little vet on the farm, so it was hard for her to be unable to move.
“At first, she had lost so much muscle mass and recovering, she couldn’t move or do anything,” Brittany said, “but she would still try to wheel her wheelchair outside as much as she could.”
This year is Savhannah’s first year back at dance, something she loves to do, but her season will be cut short with another surgery.
“She’s doing surprisingly well,” Brittany said. “She’s resilient. She has bad days, but for the most part, she hasn’t let it stop her.”
Brittany said Savhannah’s readjustment to working on the farm has gone smoothly. She doesn’t fear the equipment and is eager to continue helping out and tending to the animals.
“Me on the other hand, that’s a different story,” Brittany said. “I thought I was fine until we left the hospital. It triggered everything, and I had a lot of PTSD that I had to work through.”
Savhannah, Gracie and Peter now have another sibling in Paisley and will welcome one more in January.
Though only 3 and 1 at the time, Gracie and Peter often surprise their parents with what they remember. For instance, Gracie noticed a pair of shorts Brittany pulled out for the summer and commented that they were the shorts she was wearing when Savhannah was bleeding.
The entire family continues to work through the lasting effects of the accident, but Brittany said their strong faith is what has allowed them to persevere.
“I want to stress that really God had his hand in the entire situation and lined everything up perfectly,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine going through it without God to lean on. My husband was hysterical. The kids were in the back seat, crying. I’m sitting there holding my child that’s bleeding to death. What else do I have?”
Many community members and friends stepped up to help the Springers with farm work and with their children. In turn, they said they were blessed to reach out to encourage others with their story and testimony.
“We did a lot of praying and a lot of trusting,” Brittany said. “There were positive things that came out of the accident. We met such incredible people through that journey. There were people that would send us letters that our faith in the situation made them give their life to Christ because if we could have faith through that, they could too. That was a big blessing.”