TIFF Ambassador Robyn & Georgia Gibbons
by Jennifer A. Kelly
Posted on 2018-11-06
Seven years ago, on Good Friday, Georgia Gibbons was struck by a car as she walked across the street in downtown Tallahassee while talking on her cell phone. She had severe brain injuries and was immediately taken to the Emergency Room at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Were it not for the fact that she was registered already with TIFF, her parents may not have known what happened for hours, if not days. Fortunately, an officer came to the home of George’s parents at 4 AM, less than two hours after the accident occurred, to let them know what had happened. Being hit as a pedestrian, she was in critical condition in the ER at TMH and not expected to still be alive by morning. Thanks to TIFF and the immediate knowledge of her daughter’s accident, Georgia’s mom, Robyn, got in touch with ER doctors right away, asking them to keep her daughter alive until she could say goodbye. She stayed in constant contact with doctors during the six-hour drive to Tallahassee. The doctors told Robyn they did not expect to see Georgia’s name on the board the next morning, yet there she was, still alive and about to begin a very long road to recovery. Robyn accredits this to being able to be there so quickly and having complete contact with Georgia while she was in her coma. Robyn believes that touching her, talking to her, encouraging her, praying for her and holding her hand, believing that she would survive, led to results that were nothing short of a miracle.
Because Georgia did live. She is alive and well today. While it was proposed at the time to take her off life support, the fact that her parents were there so quickly and able to make decisions led to her survival. They would not have made it in time if they had not been notified of Georgia’s accident so quickly.
The effects of George’s condition were severe. Her brain shifted from the back to the front, much like what happens with Shaken Baby Syndrome. Just like a computer must reboot, Georgia had to relearn everything. However, if you met her today you would never know anything happened. She deals with a bit of confabulation (telling a story out of order, much like a child does) and doesn’t always remember what happened. However, the storage memory and muscle memory that comes with a brain injury is being reformed daily and now, seven years later, Georgia operates on the same level as a teenager. As she recovered from this brain injury, Georgia had to relearn everything- she began life again. Starting with diapers, she relearned how to eat, talk, shower and so on at 20 years old. Says her mom, Robyn, “Though she is different now, she’s still in there. I can still see my daughter.” In seven years, Georgia has grown from an infant’s mental level to that of a teenager. Her mom fully believes that she will eventually go past this stage just like she grew into it and will have the ability to function completely as an adult. Her mom hopes that she will work with animals one day. She loved art and drawing before her accident, so they work to restore a love for this passion as well. Georgia has hopes to marry and have a family one day, and there is every chance that hope can become a reality.
“You’ll never know how much you need it until YOU need it.” ~Jon Stuart, SCORE mentor