LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Montgomery family started their Sunday morning bright and early. Les and Nova Montgomery and their 16-year-old daughter, Austyn woke up around 5 a.m. for breakfast with Austyn’s boyrfiend, 18-year-old Brayden Sizenbach.
“We had had a wonderful day the day before. Austyn had a track meet in Midland and the four of us went and we laughed the whole day,” Les said.
Les said that laughter continued the next morning at breakfast. The four were about to make the drive from Big Spring to Lake Meredith for a fishing trip. Austyn said Brayden loved fishing so much, that they skipped prom to go fishing at Lake Alan Henry.
“If it was raining, snowing, he would be out there,” Austyn said.
After breakfast, Les hopped on his motorcycle and led the way. Nova, Austyn and Brayden followed Les in a pick-up truck.
“When we stopped in Gayle, I looked behind me and they were behind me, and we gave each other the thumbs up. Then, we went on to Post and did the same thing in Post,” Les said.
When Les stopped in Ralls, the truck was not behind him.
“I pulled over and called all three cell phones and none of them answered, so I started backtracking,” Les said.
About five miles south of Ralls, Les said he pulled up on a one-vehicle accident.
“This vehicle was laid across the highway, and I didn’t recognize it as mine until I got right up on it. The first one I saw was Austyn. She was out of the truck,” Les said.
A passerby had called 911 and Les said a deputy on scene told him he needed to go talk to Brayden who was still in the passenger seat. Brayden was in and out of consciousness.
“I said, ‘Help is coming,' and I told him that we loved him. When I spoke to him he moved, so I know he heard me,” Les said.
Les’ wife was trapped in the driver’s seat waiting for the jaws of life.
“I guess Nova heard fear in my voice. She said, ‘Les, you’ve got to be calm, you’ve got to be calm.’ I said, ‘I am hun.’ I asked her, ‘How are you?’ She said, 'not good. I can’t feel my left side.”
Two ambulances arrived shortly after, one for Les’ wife, the other for his daughter.
“By this time, Brayden had already passed, and I was bouncing between the two ambulances. I went to the ambulance Nova was in and I saw them giving her chest compressions,” Les said.
Two helicopters landed nearby and Les said his heart sank when he heard them turn off their engines.
Les said a paramedic told him his wife had passed away and his daughter was near death.
“They asked me which hospital they wanted to take her to and I said I just wanted the best care and we ended up here at UMC,” Les said.
When Austyn arrived at UMC, doctors said she only had a 10 percent chance of survival.
“Her lungs became so inured and inflamed that exchanging carbon dioxide and oxygen was not possible. Without that ability, she would die very soon,” said UMC pediatric intensivist, Dr. Tiva.
However, thanks to donations to the Children’s Miracle Network, UMC had an ECMO machine; a piece of equipment purchased 30 years ago for preemies.
Dr. Tiva took a bold step and decided to try this on a teenager for the first time.
“You take the blood of the patient...you oxygenate it outside of the body in this system, the ECMO system, and then you return it to the body. It operates as the lungs in this case,” Dr. Tiva said.
The ECMO machine would buy time for Austyn’s lungs to heal, but the risks were still great.
Dr. Tiva said there was only a 50 percent chance she would survive this procedure.
“A lot of people prayed for me. I had people in Russia, Bermuda, Spain and Canada all praying for me. My whole town had worships. The power of prayer is real,” Austyn said.
Austyn spent 42 days in the hospital.
“I broke my right leg straight in half, I broke four or five ribs and one of them punctured my right lung, so I had four chest tubes for it. I had a tracheotomy, a peg tube since I couldn’t eat. I had ECMO and traction from my leg, which is where they have a weight and I had a rod installed into my right leg,” Austyn said.
Austyn’s recovery is nothing short of a miracle.
“God had his hand in it. God provided the knowledge to the doctors and staff. He had his hands on us the entire time,” Les said.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the accident, Austyn is already back to running track, playing volleyball and modeling.
She is also her school’s mascot.
While she enjoys getting back to her normal routine, she has a new passion.
"When I am talking about CMN, it puts a smile on my face because I know I am gong to save kids’ lives by encouraging people to donate, " Austyn said.
Austyn said she also has an interest in the medical field, and plans on volunteering at a local hospital this summer. She hopes to become a child life specialist or a nurse in the PICU or NICU.
“They saved my life, and I want to save other people’s lives,” Austyn said.