On May 30, 2014, Rachel Salinetro lay in a coma, her liver lacerated, spleen ruptured, femur broken in four places, three broken ribs, three broken toes, a broken vertebrae in her neck, hairline skull fracture and two brain bleeds. A single mom working three jobs, Rachel had fallen asleep at the wheel after almost two days without sleep, veering off the road and totaling her car.
Her liver wouldn’t stop bleeding for a whole day. Medical staff had to keep the area open and repeatedly vacuum out the blood, and she needed 19 pints to replace what she’d lost. She underwent three major surgeries within the first 30 hours of being in the hospital.
The coma lasted five days and Rachel was on life support three of those days. Doctors suggested her mother call in the family and “be ready.” “Ready for what?” her mother asked. “We don’t think she’s going to make it,” said doctors.
Miraculously, Rachel did make it. And, thankfully for her then 17-month-old son, she was able to make a full recovery instead of leaving him motherless. In fact, he was part of her rehabilitation. In addition to six weeks of physical therapy, Rachel did her own therapy at home. She pushed her son everywhere in his stroller. Athletic since birth, Rachel couldn’t imagine not being able to run or play sports again.
Only 13 weeks after her accident, Rachel was pushing people to their physical limits teaching Insanity and other fitness classes, and had become a certified personal trainer. She continues on that path today.
“People who see me now and don’t know about the accident are stunned when they hear that three years ago I couldn’t even walk. But, instead of the main story, that’s the side story (the accident) because that’s what I wanted it to be and pushed for it to be.”
Rachel had always been a blood donor. Now she’s an adamant advocate for blood donation.
“Thank you, blood donors, because what saved my life was donated blood. If people say needles creep them out I say, ‘so if you’re rushed to a hospital and a doctor needs to stick a needle in you to save you, you’re going to turn them away?’ I don’t let anyone off the hook. You have no idea when you’re ever going to need it. I never thought I was going to need it.”