It was a typical March evening in Florida. The Stone family’s six children were playing outside, bouncing on their trampoline and enjoying the extra daylight from the recent time change. They had no idea their lives — especially 6-year-old Kiersyn’s — would soon be disrupted.
Stacey Stone was starting dinner around 5 p.m. when one of her children came running in to let her know Kiersyn had an accident outside. Although the Stones made sure the trampoline was safely enclosed, Kiersyn had fallen through the opening of the trampoline’s side, hitting the steps before striking her head on a thick piece of wood that bordered the children’s play area.
When Stacey rushed to Kiersyn, she seemed a bit “out of it,” but nothing seemed seriously wrong. Since their Panama City, Florida, home was just five minutes from the emergency room, Stacey and her husband, Jason, decided to play it safe and loaded Kiersyn into their car to have her checked out. On the way to the ER, Kiersyn was coherent and reciting her ABCs to her father as they arrived.
Medical staff transported Kiersyn for scans, which lasted about 30 minutes, and the results showed a temporal brain bleed and another brain bleed at the back of her head. They immediately sedated her and started discussing where to send the family for Kiersyn’s treatment.
The Stones were advised to travel from Panama City to Gainesville, where Kiersyn could receive care from the doctors at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Normally, the family would have been flown by helicopter to Gainesville, but it was now late in the evening and unusually foggy, so visibility was too low to fly.
The family made the trip by ambulance instead. During the ride, Kiersyn had to be given additional medication to aid her obvious discomfort. Arriving at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital after almost 5 hours in the ambulance, they were greeted by the ER staff and then the intensive care unit team, where Kiersyn was monitored consistently.
Stacey recalls the situation feeling very busy and hectic, but under control. Doctors and nurses moved quickly in and out of the room asking questions to assess the situation. Soon, they determined Kiersyn had suffered a seizure right after the fall. She was taken for another CT scan that showed the brain bleed at the back of her head had not stopped.
This is when the Stones met Dr. Lance Governale, UF Health’s chief of pediatric neurosurgery, who showed the family Kiersyn’s scans to illustrate exactly what was going on and explain that he would be taking her into surgery as quickly as possible.
“He talked through everything in detail and was extremely kind but didn’t sugarcoat the situation, which we appreciated,” Stacey said.
As Kiersyn went back for surgery to stop the brain bleed, Stacey and Jason prayed, as they believed God was in control. The surgery was a success, and Dr. Governale showed the relieved parents photos and videos from the surgery with technology they had never seen before. After initial recovery in intensive care, Kiersyn was ready to go home 48 hours later with no complications.
Her recovery was smooth, with bandages coming off two days after they got home and normal activity resuming a couple of weeks later. Walking away with no consequences other than a scar and a temporary “funky haircut,” Stacey said Kiersyn knows how lucky she is and isn’t shy in talking about her experience with other kids. Life is back to normal for Kiersyn, her five siblings and her parents, although Stacey said the kids now look out for each other more than before.
Coming to Gainesville and UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital made a huge difference in the care Kiersyn received, Stacey believes. Looking back, she remembers how attentive the team was from arrival to discharge, with constant updates throughout the process so she and Jason never felt in the dark.
“The way Dr. Governale handled the situation was perfect,” Stacey said. “And we will never forget it.”