Saving Vincent with cartwheels, laughter

Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

(Richard Schultz)
May 14, 2009
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On March 11, 2007, my brother, Spc. Vincent Mannion, 19, was severely injured in Tikrit, Iraq. He suffered a traumatic brain injury; his skull was removed to release the pressure and now he has a prosthetic skull that is much larger than his actual head. We were told he would never walk or talk again and probably be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. We almost lost him three times in the hospital. It was the worst time of my life.

Everyone was so welcoming when we arrived at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. I believe this was the first time any private facility in New England had treated a wounded solider from the Iraq war, especially one so dramatically injured. Shannon Worden was a 24-year-old nurse who had never treated anyone in as bad condition as my brother. He was in a vegetative coma with no response. She went above and beyond in his care, doing everything from taking extra shifts to giving him her undivided attention.

She taught him everything. Shannon would sit in his room listening to music, watching movies, cracking jokes, anything to try to make him smile. She would bring him Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's and pay for it out of her own money.

Vincent had a strong connection to Shannon from the beginning; we knew she was special. I never worried leaving him when she was his nurse. She always made sure he was bathed, changed, fed, etc. He has come a long way. Vincent is still in therapy sessions but now with the VA [Veterans Administration]. He was at Spaulding for a year and a half. Shannon has become family. On March 11, 2009, he celebrated his two-year anniversary.

Today, Vincent is walking without assistance and eating on his own. He is a miracle, but I truly believe it is all because of his family and his nurses, especially Shannon. Vincent and Shannon speak all the time and she comes to visit him. I never until this day thought I would be having conversations with my brother. Thanks to Shannon and Spaulding our dream has come true.

-Nominated by Colleen Mannion